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Kevin Aris

Bluebell by Kevin - Revel - 1/72 - with full GLS upgrade

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good morning everyone

 

i need to do a build that is less than 5 foot long, so welcome to my new project from the Revel 1/72 HMS Snowberry kit with the full upgrade kit by Great Little Ships

igcbBt3.jpg

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The Flower-class corvette

 (also referred to as the Gladiolus class after the lead ship) was a British class of 294 corvettes used during World War II, specifically with the Allied navies as anti-submarine convoy escorts during the Battle of the Atlantic. Royal Navy ships of this class were named after flowers, hence the name of the class.

The majority served during World War II with the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). Several ships built largely in Canada were transferred from the RN to the United States Navy (USN) under the lend-lease programme, seeing service in both navies. Some corvettes transferred to the USN were manned by the US Coast Guard.[5] The vessels serving with the US Navy were known as Temptress and Action-class patrol gunboats. Other Flower-class corvettes served with the Free French Naval Forces, the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Royal Norwegian Navy, the Royal Indian Navy, the Royal Hellenic Navy, the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Royal Yugoslav Navy, and, immediately post-war, the South African Navy.

After World War II many surplus Flower-class vessels saw worldwide use in other navies, as well as civilian use. HMCS Sackville is the only member of the class to be preserved as a museum ship.

 

Class designation


The term "corvette" was originally a French name for a small sailing warship, intermediate between the frigate and the sloop-of-war. In the 1830s the term was adopted by the RN for sailing warships of roughly similar size, primarily operating in the shipping protection role. With the arrival of steam power, paddle- and later screw-driven corvettes were built for the same purpose, growing in power, size, and armament over the decades. In 1877 the RN abolished the "corvette" as a traditional category; corvettes and frigates were then combined into a new category, "cruiser".

The months leading up to World War II saw the RN return to the concept of a small escort warship being used in the shipping protection role. The Flower class was based on the design of Southern Pride, a whale-catcher, and were labelled "corvettes", thus restoring the title for the RN, although the Flower-class has no connection with pre-1877 cruising vessels.

There are two distinct groups of vessels in this class: the original Flower-class, 225 vessels ordered during the 1939 and 1940 building programmes; and the modified Flower-class, which followed with a further 69 vessels ordered from 1940 onward. The modified Flowers were slightly larger and somewhat better armed.

All Flower-class vessels, of original or modified design, that saw service with the USN are known as Action-class gunboats, and carried the hull classification symbol PG ("patrol gunboat").

Design


In early 1939, with the risk of war with Nazi Germany increasing, it was clear to the Royal Navy that it needed more escort ships to counter the threat from Kriegsmarine U-boats. One particular concern was the need to protect shipping off the east coast of Britain. What was needed was something larger and faster than trawlers, but still cheap enough to be built in large numbers, preferably at small merchant shipyards, as larger yards were already busy. To meet this requirement, the Smiths Dock Company of Middlesbrough, a specialist in the design and build of fishing vessels, offered a development of its 700-ton, 16 knots (18 mph; 30 km/h) whale catcher Southern Pride.[6][7] They were intended as small convoy escort ships that could be produced quickly and cheaply in large numbers. Despite naval planners' intentions that they be deployed for coastal convoys, their long range meant that they became the mainstay of Mid-Ocean Escort Force convoy protection during the first half of the war.

The Flower class became an essential resource for North Atlantic convoy protection until larger vessels such as destroyer escorts and frigates could be produced in sufficient quantities. The simple design of the Flower class using parts and techniques (scantlings) common to merchant shipping meant they could be constructed in small commercial shipyards all over the United Kingdom and Canada, where larger (or more sophisticated) warships[8] could not be built. Additionally, the use of commercial triple expansion machinery instead of steam turbines meant the largely Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve crews that were manning the corvettes would be familiar with their operation.

Flower-class vessels were slow for a warship, with maximum speed of 16 kn (30 km/h). They were also very lightly armed as they were intended solely for anti-submarine warfare; many of the RCN's original Flower-class ships were initially fitted with minesweeping equipment, while virtually all of the modified Flowers were fitted with a limited anti-aircraft capability.

The original Flowers had the standard RN layout, consisting of a raised forecastle, a well deck, then the bridge or wheelhouse, and a continuous deck running aft. The crew quarters were in the foc'sle while the galley was at the rear, making for poor messing arrangements.[9]

The modified Flowers saw the forecastle extended aft past the bridge to the aft end of the funnel, a variation known as the "long forecastle" design. Apart from providing a very useful space where the whole crew could gather out of the weather, the added weight improved the ships' stability and speed and was retroactively applied to a number of the original Flower-class vessels during the mid and latter years of the war.

The original Flowers had a mast located immediately forward the bridge, a notable exception to naval practice at that time. The modified Flowers saw the mast returned to the normal position immediately aft of the bridge; however, this does not seem to have been done in all of the modified builds or conversions of the original vessels.

A cruiser stern finished the appearance for all vessels in the class.

Orders

Early Flower corvettes had a mast before the wheel house

 

Later ones had more flare at the bow and a longer forecastle

The RN ordered 145 Flower-class corvettes in 1939, the first 26 on 25 July with a further batch of 30 on 31 August, all under the 1939 Pre-War Programme. Following the outbreak of World War II, the British Admiralty ordered another 20 on 19 September (all from Harland & Wolff) under the 1939 War Programme. This was followed by an order for a further ten Flower-class corvettes from other British shipbuilders two days later. Another 18 were ordered on 12 December and an additional two on 15 December, again from British shipbuilders. The RN ordered the last ten vessels (under the 1939 War Programme) from Canadian shipbuilders in January 1940.

Thus, by the end of January 1940, a total of 116 ships were building or on order to this initial design. The 10 vessels ordered from Canadian shipbuilders were transferred to the RCN upon completion. Another four vessels were ordered at Smiths Dock Company for the French Navy, the first ship being completed for the Free French Naval Forces in mid-1940 and the other three being taken over by the RN. Another 31 Flowers were ordered by the RN under the 1940 War Programme, but six of these (ordered from Harland & Wolff) were cancelled on 23 January 1941.

The RN ordered 27 modified Flower-class corvettes under the 1941 and 1942 War Programmes. British shipbuilders were contracted to build seven of these vessels under the 1941 Programme and 5 vessels under the 1942 Programme; however, two vessels (one from each year's Programme) were later cancelled. Additionally the RN ordered 15 modified Flowers from Canadian shipyards under the 1941 programme; eight of these were transferred to the USN under the Lend-Lease Programme.

The RCN ordered 70 original and 34 modified Flower-class vessels from Canadian shipbuilders. The Canadian shipbuilders also built seven original Flowers ordered by the USN; however, these vessels were transferred to the RN under the Lend-Lease Programme upon completion as wartime shipbuilding production in the United States had reached the level where the USN could dispense with vessels it had ordered in Canada. The RCN vessels had several design variations from their RN counterparts: the "bandstand," where the aft pom-pom gun was mounted, was moved to the rear of the superstructure; the galley was also moved forward, immediately abaft the engine room.

Shortly after the outbreak of war the French Navy ordered 18 Flower-class vessels;[10] 12 from UK yards, two from Ateliers et Chantiers de France at Dunkirk and four from Chantiers de Penhoët at Saint-Nazaire.[11] The two At. & Ch. de France ships are listed as "cancelled"[12] but the four Penhoët ships were under construction at the time of the Fall of France and were seized by Nazi Germany. Three were completed for Kriegsmarine service and commissioned in 1943–44 as the PA-class patrol ships.[11][13]

Armament

Typical BL 4 inch Mk IX gun mounting, here seen on HMS Vervain

Loading a depth charge thrower on HMS Dianthus

QF2 Mk. VIII pom-pom gun, from HMCS Kamloops, on display in the Lebreton Gallery of the Canadian War Museum
The original Flower class were fitted with a 4-inch (102 mm) gun on the bow, depth charge racks carrying 40 charges on the stern, a minesweeping winch, and a 2-pounder (40 mm) pom-pom gun on a "bandstand" over the engine room.

Due to initial shortages, a pair of Lewis guns was sometimes substituted for the pom-pom, which would have left the ship very vulnerable to aircraft attack in its envisaged role of coastal convoy escort and patrol in the North Sea. The long-range endurance of the vessels, coupled with early war-time shortages of larger escort warships, saw Flowers assigned to trans-Atlantic convoy escort where Luftwaffe fighter-bombers were rarely encountered. Vessels assigned to the Mediterranean Sea usually had their anti-aircraft capability significantly upgraded.

Underwater detection capability was provided by a fixed ASDIC dome; this was later modified to be retractable. Subsequent inventions such as the High Frequency Radio Detection Finder (Huff-Duff) were later added, along with various radar systems (such as the Type 271), which proved particularly effective in low-visibility conditions in the North Atlantic.

The Flower class had been designed for inshore patrol and harbour anti-submarine defence; therefore, many required minor modifications when the Allied navies began deploying these vessels as trans-Atlantic convoy escorts. These small warships could be supported by any small dockyard or naval station, so many ships came to have a variety of different weapons systems and design modifications depending upon when and where they were refitted; there is really no such thing as a 'standard Flower-class corvette'

Several of the major changes that vessels in the class underwent are indicated below, in a typical chronological order:

Original twin mast configuration changed to single mast in front of the bridge, then moved behind the bridge for improved visibility.
Heavy minesweeping gear removed for deep-sea escort work and to improve range.
Galley relocated from the stern to midships.
Extra depth charge storage racks were fitted at the stern. Later, more depth charges stowed along walkways.
Hedgehog fitted to enable remote attacks while keeping ASDIC contact.
Surface radar fitted in a "lantern" housing on the bridge.
Forecastle lengthened to midships to provide more accommodation and better seaworthiness. Several vessels were given a "three-quarters length" extension.
Increased flare at the bow. This and the above modification created the modified Flower design for subsequent orders.
Various changes to the bridge, typically lowering and lengthening it. Enclosed compass house removed.
Extra twin Lewis guns mounted on the bridge or engine room roof.
Oerlikon 20 mm cannons fitted, usually two on the bridge wings but sometimes as many as six spread out along the engine-room roof, depending on the theatre of operations.
Any particular ship could have any mix of these, or other specialist one-off modifications. Ships allocated to other navies such as the RCN or USN usually had different armament and deck layouts.

A major difference between the RN vessels and the RCN, USN, and other navies' vessels was the provision of upgraded ASDIC and radar. The RN was a world leader in developing these technologies, and thus RN Flowers were somewhat better-equipped for remote detection of enemy submarines. A good example of this is the difficulty that RCN Flowers had in intercepting U-boats with their Canadian-designed SW1C metric radar, while the RN vessels were equipped with the technologically advanced Type 271 centimetric sets. In addition, RCN vessels were incapable of operating gyrocompasses, making ASDIC attacks more difficult.

Operations
Flower-class corvettes were used extensively by both the RN and RCN in the war-long Battle of the Atlantic. They also saw limited service elsewhere with the RN, as well as the USN and several Allied navies such as the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Royal Norwegian Navy, the Royal Hellenic Navy, the Free French Naval Forces, the Royal Indian Navy, and the Royal New Zealand Navy. The Belgian Navy manned some of these vessels during World War II, and have continued to use Flower names for their minehunters to this day.

Most Royal Navy Flower-class ships drew their officers and crew from the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). Many RN Flowers had captains drawn from the Merchant Navy.

Service on Flowers in the North Atlantic was typically cold, wet, monotonous and uncomfortable. Every dip of the forecastle into an oncoming wave was followed by a cascade of water into the well deck amidships.[14] Men at action stations were drenched with spray, and water entered living spaces through hatches opened to access ammunition magazines.[14] Interior decks were constantly wet and condensation dripped from the overheads.[14] The head (or sanitary toilet) was drained by a straight pipe to the ocean; and a reverse flow of the icy North Atlantic would cleanse the backside of those using it during rough weather.[14] By 1941 corvettes carried twice as many crewmen as anticipated in the original design.[14] Men slept on lockers or tabletops or in any dark place that offered a little warmth.[14] The inability to store perishable food meant a reliance on preserved food such as corned-beef and powdered potato for all meals.[15]

The Flowers were nicknamed "the pekingese of the ocean". They had a reputation of having poor sea-handling characteristics, most often rolling in heavy seas, with 80-degree rolls, 40 degrees each side of upright, being fairly common; it was said they "would roll on wet grass".[16] Many crewmen suffered severe motion sickness for a few weeks until they acclimatised to shipboard life.[14] Although poor in their sea-handling characteristics, the Flowers were extremely seaworthy; no Allied sailor was ever lost overboard from a Flower during World War II, outside combat.

A typical action by a Flower encountering a surfaced U-boat during convoy escort duties was to run directly at the submarine, forcing it to dive and thus limiting its speed and manoeuvrability. The corvette would then keep the submarine down and pre-occupied with avoiding depth charge attacks long enough to allow the convoy to pass safely. The 16-knot (30 km/h) top speed of the Flower-class ships made effective pursuit of a surfaced U-boat (about 17 knots) impossible, though it was adequate to manoeuvre around submerged U-boats or convoys, both of which ran at a typical maximum of 8 knots, and sometimes much less in poor weather. The low speed also made it difficult for Flowers to catch up with the convoy after action.[9]

This technique was hampered when the Kriegsmarine began deploying its U-boats in "wolf-pack" attacks, which were intended to overwhelm the escort warships of a convoy and allow at least one of the submarines to attack the merchant vessels. Upgrades in sensors and armament for the Flowers, such as radar, HF/DF, depth charge projectors, and ASDIC, meant these small warships were well equipped to detect and defend against such attacks, but the tactical advantage often lay with the attackers, who could operate a cat-and-mouse series of attacks intended to draw the defending Flower off-station.

Success for the Flowers, therefore, should be measured in terms of tonnage protected, rather than U-boats sunk. Typical reports of convoy actions by these craft include numerous instances of U-boat detection near a convoy, followed by brief engagements using guns or depth charges and a rapid return to station as another U-boat took advantage of the initial skirmish to attack the unguarded convoy. Continuous actions of this kind against a numerically superior U-boat pack demanded considerable seamanship skills from all concerned, and were very wearing on the crews.


The Free French Memorial on Lyle Hill in Greenock, looking out to the west of the Tail of the Bank anchorage, has a plaque commemorating the loss of the corvettes Alyssa and Mimosa.[17]
Thirty-six ships in the class were lost during World War II, many due to enemy action, some to collision with Allied warships and merchant ships. One, sunk in shallow water, was raised and repaired. Of the vessels lost to enemy action, 22 were torpedoed by U-boats, five were mined, and four were sunk by enemy aircraft. The Flower-class corvettes are credited with participating in the sinking of 47 German and four Italian submarines.

Construction of the Flower-class was superseded toward the end of the war as larger shipyards concentrated on River-class frigates, and smaller yards on the improved Castle-class corvette design.

The Flower class represented fully half of all Allied convoy escort vessels in the North Atlantic during World War II.

 

HMS Bluebell (K80)

Service history
After commissioning and sea trials in July 1940, Bluebell was deployed on Atlantic convoy escort duties.[2] Commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Robert Sherwood, one of her first duties, in October 1940, was to meet Convoy SC 7 mid-ocean. She rescued all 39 officers and men from the cargo steamship SS Scoresby, which had been torpedoed and sunk on 17 October.[3] Sherwood subsequently appeared in the 1973 TV programme The World at War, in the episode Wolf Pack.[4]

In January 1941 Bluebell was attached to the 5th Escort Group, Western Approaches Command, based at Liverpool, to escort Atlantic convoys, transferring in September to the 37th Escort Group for the defence of convoys between Gibraltar and ports in West Africa. She returned to the UK in July 1942 to refit, and was assigned for service on the Russian Convoys. In September she sailed to Iceland to join the escort of Convoy PQ 18 to Arkhangelsk, returning in November, and resuming Atlantic convoy escort duties in December and January. In February 1943 she joined the escort of Convoy JW 53 from Loch Ewe to Kola Inlet, returning in March to resume duties in the Western Approaches.[2]

In June 1943 Bluebell was sent to the Mediterranean, and in early July was part of the escort for assault convoys during the initial landings in the Allied invasion of Sicily, remaining in the Mediterranean for further convoy escort duties until August when she returned to the Western Approaches.[2]

Between February and April 1944 she escorted Russian Convoys JW 57 and JW 58, and in May was transferred to Escort Group 143 to prepare for the invasion of Normandy. On 6 June she formed part of Convoy ECL1 escorting LSTs from the Bristol Channel to the landing beaches, then escorted follow-up convoys until released on 25 June. In August she was transferred to the 8th Escort Group and joined the escort force for Russian Convoy JW 59, returning in September.[2]

After further convoy defence and interception duties, on 2 February 1945 she was attached to the escort for Russian Convoy JW 64. After arriving at Kola Inlet she took part in anti-submarine operations against U-boats known to be gathering to carry out attacks on the return convoy. On 17 February, as Convoy RA 64 was assembling off Murmansk, Bluebell was hit in the stern by an acoustic homing torpedo fired by U-711, which caused her depth charges to explode. She sank in less than 30 seconds at 69°24′N 33°42′ECoordinates: 69°24′N 33°42′E.[5] From her crew of 86 ratings and officers there was only one survivor: Albert Holmes from Southampton.

EcdeWun.jpg

 

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Gidday Kevin, an interesting read, and a tragic end to a gallant little ship. You mentioned her commanding officer, Robert Sherwood and an episode of "World at War". I remember seeing that, although it was screened here in the late 70's I think. 

     I don't believe that the service these ships and their crews provided and endured can ever be overstated, IMHO. Regards, Jeff.

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1 hour ago, ArnoldAmbrose said:

Gidday Kevin, an interesting read, and a tragic end to a gallant little ship. You mentioned her commanding officer, Robert Sherwood and an episode of "World at War". I remember seeing that, although it was screened here in the late 70's I think. 

     I don't believe that the service these ships and their crews provided and endured can ever be overstated, IMHO. Regards, Jeff.

I will try and do her some justice, i will try and do an update later

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Hi Kevin - I'm really looking forwards to this.  Have you decided what paint scheme you'll depict her in?

Rob

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The World At War series refered to is often repeated on the Freeview chanel Yesterday in the UK.

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Kevin;

I'll be watching your build with great interest. :popcorn:

My father served in these little ships on the North Atlantic run during WWII, while serving in the RCN.  I've toured the Flower class corvette HMCS Sackville a couple of times during visits to Halifax, Nova Scotia, & have taken a number of photos.  Let me know if I can can help with any details.

 

John

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6 minutes ago, Niall said:

The World At War series refered to is often repeated on the Freeview chanel Yesterday in the UK.

i have the full box set, 

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2 minutes ago, JohnWS said:

Kevin;

I'll be watching your build with great interest. :popcorn:

My father served in these little ships on the North Atlantic run during WWII, while serving in the RCN.  I've toured the Flower class corvette HMCS Sackville a couple of times during visits to Halifax, Nova Scotia, & have taken a number of photos.  Let me know if I can can help with any details.

 

John

thank you John also have you seen this

 

 

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Hi Kevin;

Yes, those are great shots.

 

I met with small group of my old Navy buddies for a reunion on Sackville in 2010.  It was a warm summer's day and it was stifling hot below decks.  My Dad said that within a day of leaving port on the convoy runs, the Corvette's lower decks were awash with seawater, & they stayed that way 'til arriving at their destination.   I can't imagine what those sailors had to cope with while on board.

 

John 

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THE HULL

 

supplied in 4 sections, having to make up both sides first before joining together

YlHHxQM.jpg

tMbQhxL.jpgaUAbxvr.jpg

 

the mould has a keel that need to be removed from the bottom of the hull and faired in at the hull

tAIeFen.jpg

XTUOfZF.jpg

vpwppl8.jpg

7JJudSt.jpg

this needs a lot more work but looks better so far

 

Hull plates

these are far to thick and needs a hair cut

i used a black marker to highlight  the edges

iAyYPhd.jpg

after 30 minutes with the mouse sander

a1fKNY4.jpg

the moulded porthole eyebrows have gone as well 

zVz2Brd.jpg

 

 

 

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This looking rather interesting.

aUAbxvr.jpg

Another one with bare feet...just asking for trouble!

 

Stuart

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Courageous said:

This looking rather interesting.

aUAbxvr.jpg

Another one with bare feet...just asking for trouble!

 

Stuart

At least they were clean

Edited by Kevin Aris

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good morning everyone thank you for the likes and comments

 

MAIN DECK

 

all the decks are brass and sit on top of the kit plastic ones (after all the surface detail has been removed

IMG_4816.thumb.JPG.74042a3f79c750e4ebcae

this is the main deck 18 inches long, to save metal, various parts have to be removed these areas are covered over later, by the forecastle and bridge

 

 

first all the rivets have to be knocked through from the other side (about 500 on this piece) marks are provided to show where they are and a centre punch is used to do the work

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the sides are then folded upwards and soldered in place, im not sure ca would do this very well 

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and then two long strips as long as the whole piece are soldered against the folded piece to represent rivet lines i did use ca for this

 

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IMG_4821.thumb.JPG.c7529908e983cddf64747

 

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not much more i can do to the main deck for the time being, i will need to do some/lots of hull work before that will be put into position, at least for now it has something to sit on

so its back to the bridge

 

Bridge rework

not so much re-work, but i bought a new set, i had to as the last one was never going to be presentable, however the bits will be kept for another project i have in mind

 

although not perfect, i am much happier with the outcome, 

the radar tower is at present from the old set, as the replacement has to be remade, all in all a recovery, for me anyway

IMG_4823.thumb.JPG.a468a1673f17bd4168256

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IMG_4837.thumb.JPG.c147e5137bd7eb0fce439

 

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1 minute ago, Courageous said:

Looks like you've been busy with the PE, looks great.

 

Stuart

Good morning Stuart

 

On this kit there is only PE to play with

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The kit instructions have the side parts of the wheelhouse the wrong way round. The 2 ribs towards the rear in the instructions are actually sliding doors which should be at the front. Photo of my wheelhouse -

48573753357_49476c55ed_z.jpg

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Oooooo I have this in my stash. I 'm going to watch with interest and take LOTS of notes!

 

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Wow, that's a lot of work!  It looks like the rework & PE parts are worth it.

 

John

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Stunning progress Kevin.  I have the GLS deck sheet, and the base kit for some time in the future

Having to punch the rivets is a bit of a downer.  

I like that you have sanded down the hull plates - they stand out like a sore thumb if it's not done

Any thoughts to rivetting the hull?

 

Again I ask - any thoughts as to what the final colour scheme will be?

I have failed to find late pictures of Bluebell before she went down though the kit instructions bid you do 507C and B15 I believe.  

 

Keep it coming

Rob

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, robgizlu said:

Stunning progress Kevin.  I have the GLS deck sheet, and the base kit for some time in the future

Having to punch the rivets is a bit of a downer.  

I like that you have sanded down the hull plates - they stand out like a sore thumb if it's not done

Any thoughts to rivetting the hull?

 

Again I ask - any thoughts as to what the final colour scheme will be?

I have failed to find late pictures of Bluebell before she went down though the kit instructions bid you do 507C and B15 I believe.  

 

Keep it coming

Rob

The rivets is not a problem, i bought a centre punch from screwfix for less then £5, the marks are there ffor you, its just another of those details that are there should you wish to pursue

 

i did a test at the weekend of replicating hull plate rivets using superglue, got a reasonable result, might get better when the plates have been sanded and i get somthing better to apply the ca, i used a 0.5 drill for this, (the flat end)

EMMD8Tb.jpg

 

paint scheme will be simple, as i want to weather it anyway, something like this  if you google it there are loads, im not sure if they are all right

img_Bluebell.JPG

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1PQHB_enGB727GB742&biw=1920&bih=888&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=lIpbXeKVNczsafbYgdgJ&q=HMS+BLUEBELL+&oq=HMS+BLUEBELL+&gs_l=img.3..35i39l2j0i30j0i24l3.3225.5567..6135...0.0..0.69.776.12......0....1..gws-wiz-img.5fiGV_5Q-KU&ved=0ahUKEwjir9j64JDkAhVMdhoKHXZsAJsQ4dUDCAY&uact=5#imgrc=naWumOClRcuXUM:

Edited by Kevin Aris

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Just wondering if one of those riveting wheels for plastic would work here? :shrug:

 

Stuart

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