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NotDaMama

Airfix HMS Nelson - with added WEM!

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And so it begins!!! 

 

I've been looking forward to this build for the last month, which has meant the Tiger that was but days from completion became homeless, and I have become restless. Now, however, I can happily assault one of the old, evil, original Airfix lineup. 

 

I picked up this kit about 5 years ago on a whim having built it (not terribly) when I was a sprog and after rediscovering my handiwork on top of a cabinet at my parents. This prompted a random purchase and some serious thought about what to do with such an old and generally spotty kit. Cue White Ensign! I was fortunate to get the PE set. At the time they had advised there may be no hope of my obtaining it from them, but a week later a letter stuck to an envelope arrived and behold! a ton of valuable PE to make this old dinghy resemble a Battleship. 

 

As to whether I'll do it justice, I have no idea. Plenty of experience with PE but never stuff this fine, and a requirement to use brushes as my Aztek seems to have sprung a fail, may cause more frustration than building OOB, but I am up for the challenge! 

 

To steal a line from a well known videogame series - let's do this...

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Nelson is a great subject, odd design but pretty powerful looking armament, and pretty big name in the med with Malta convoys and torch/husky?

 

nice choice!

 

Rob

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A braver man than me! Looking forward to doing my Nelson as Rodney when time allows!

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@rob85 I've always been a fan of their unorthodox looks and feel the Nelson's get overlooked by many, despite their long and valiant service, because they are such oddities. I do feel it's a shame the N and G series were never built though, they would have looked great. 

 

@Worms thanks! Looking at these sprues, and the PE instructions, I fear my courage may fail me at some point, but with others assaulting the old Airfix kits I shall do my best to smash through. I did think hard about converting her to Rodney, but the amount of surgery required to actually put Nelson together as is has put me right off doing any more!!

 

When I manage to make Flickr work, as others have, I shall post images. At least it's in keeping with my usual style: no images until half way through :doh:

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They were beautiful in an ugly kind of way! Old hat but Rodney just kept going when she shouldn't have. As I understand,  the most damage she received from her bout with Bismarck was damage caused by the blast effects of her own guns!

 

use VGY me for uploadingphotos...brilliant and quick!

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2 hours ago, Worms said:

As I understand,  the most damage she received from her bout with Bismarck was damage caused by the blast effects of her own guns!

Gidday, I read that too. Their unusual design was in the interests of saving weight, not tactical reasons. The two ships were intended to be 48,000 ton battlecruisers, but under the terms of the Washington Treaty their displacement had to be reduced to 35,000 tons.

 

     If this is the Airfix 1/600 scale kit I did this quite a few years ago, almost OOB. You might want to check the depth of the main turrets. From line drawings it appeared to me they were a little shallow, so I added some thin plywood underneath (I hadn't discovered Evergreen styrene products at that stage). If you do this you might have to also extend the rotating pins a little, but styrene tube will do for that. HTH. I've never been game to try PE so I'm looking forward to seeing your build.

     Regards, Jeff.

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@Worms I have read that a broadside from a Nelson was a somewhat sobering experience for her crew given so many big guns forward, though Rodney's performance against Bismarck is renowned. That's always made me wonder why they chose Nelson, not Rodney, as their subject. 

Thanks for the sharing site info, I shall arrange this today! 

@ArnoldAmbrose thanks for the heads up. They do look a little delicate, those turrets, and the model I built many decades ago shows they are definitely too shallow. I shall take your suggestion and mod them accordingly. As for styrene rod, I think I need to make another shopping list. This was supposed to be a cheap build, but it ain't now! 

I shall do my best to do the PE justice. I showed it to Mrs Mama, she gave me the look of "you poor fool"... :unsure:

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Muhahahaha... pictures at last! :wicked:spacer.png

 

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And there we go. A lot of parts have wandered off sprues, and 3 of the 4 40mm mounts are wrecked, but as most of the damaged and detached parts are being replaced with PE anyway I have no concerns. 

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Gidday NotDaMama, I mentioned/suggested styrene rod because I thought it might be easier. I actually drilled out thick sprue to fit over the existing turret rotating pins because at the time I hadn't discovered the styrene accessories. You'll only need short lengths so this might be a cheaper option. Regards, Jeff.

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@ArnoldAmbrose hmm, the sprue idea will save a couple of pennies, this isn't a bad plan, though I still need to go shopping. Every time I step out from behind my usual subject (tanks, lovely, big tanks) I find I'm totally unprepared! So far I need a wax pencil (I am not picking up that PE with my fingers and the tweezers only feed the carpet monster) possibly a wooden deck given how naff and patchy the original is, and I will need some suitable paints. Seems that, as the last floating thing I built was 25 years ago, I may not have maintained an adequate supply... 

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Progress is being made, which is doubly good given how annoying the fit is and how much work will be needed. I've asked about for some detail photos too, as well as drawings, to help clear up some of the badly planned out fit areas on this kit. 

 

So far, the hull is assembled and the filling/filing shall soon commence.

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Unfortunately I am presented with the age old Airfix fit problem: 

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Unless the stern doesn't match up, this beautiful gap appears at the bow! As there is no longer any deck there, since I filed it all off, I shall just assault it with filler. I've stripped the anchor chains too as they come in the PE set. 

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This beautiful bend has also appeared since I started the filing on the bow, so I don't think I can totally pin that on Airfix (I'll still try though) but the superstructure join is.... I can't even describe that it's a nightmare. Filling and sanding will get most of it, but I'm not sure about the curve around the old conning tower, or the area in the rear gun tubs. 

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That's it for the day!

I avoided filling the hull seams, instead I spent about 2 and a half hours filing the hull down evenly. Its come out nice and smooth though. 

 

All the 6" turrets have been cleaned up and are ready for barrels. I'm actually impressed with how well they have come out of their moulds. Unlike the main battery, these turrets had little flash and their features are still sharp. 

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I've stuck down the first part of the superstructure, despite its desire to disobey me, and tomorrow will see it filled and, if I'm lucky, sanded down. The next level, with 20mm gun tubs, is shocking, so that will take up much of my time as I will need to try and clean them out inside. May need to dig out the Dremel... 

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As you can see I've also bored out the barbettes for the 6" mounts. I found that each turret sat differently on them and none of them had the sprue hole in the centre. This will mean gluing the turrets onto them, but I don't mind that as long as they sit right! 

Tomorrow's final task, assuming the filler dries in time, will be fitting the deck and then filling the horrific gaps and spaces where the plastic has just... vanished. 

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No photos this time, I've decided not to spam my own build, so a text only update. 

 

The missing chunk of the bow has been replaced with a load of filler and been sanded nice and smooth. The boxes behind the first breakwater have had their immense sinkholes attacked with filler and file and are now box shaped. The horrific gap between the two first halves of the superstructure has been filled and filed half a dozen times so now it resembles a smooth (ish) surface. 

The 2nd part of the superstructure has been smoothed and reshaped so it now resembles battleship, not a 5 year olds attempt at clay modelling. I've also thinned the walls for the 20mm tubs, but probably need to do more. 

I've carved out the 20mm sponsons on the director control platform wings, now I know what the hell they are, but there has been some damage from the knife used. Hopefully when the 20mm are installed that will vanish. 

I've assaulted the conning tower base with a seriously sharp knife and many prayers to the modelling Gods, and successfully made it all the same shape all round. 

I've built the control tower and smoothed it all off as well as adding the rear 20mm AA platform and the forward 40mm tub base to it. Only after fitting the 20mm platform did I find out that the big square block thing at the back is meant to be a load of stairs. 

No, I am not going to fix it. I'm a mad, not masochistic! On this error, Airfix wins. 

I've also filled the immense holes at the stern which I believe must be windows for somewhere, yet none of the wartime photos show them open, so I will need to attack with sharpened knife and create "doors" on them once dry to replicate them being closed. 

 

I think that's everything I've managed to do, though it seems there is a painful road to march along to get this ship in order. My long weekend is over as of, well, now actually, and 6am brings work, so if all goes according to plan I may get some more filing done tomorrow night and be in a position to attach the 2nd part of the superstructure. I'm torn about fitting it all now as I know I have hatches to add, but at the same time leaving it all loose will create fit issues later. 

Note to self, keep stupid projects like this purely for GB's. Forced motivation will get me through! 

 

Oh, and this arrived today, so far it's great! 

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Hi Jamie, thanks for the kind words. 

I'm looking at 44/45, after her refit in the US. I had considered doing earlier but the removal of the 40mm mounts would mean a ton of scratch building I'm not up for! 

Personally, I prefer Nelson without the bofors, but practical considerations must take precedent. 

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1 hour ago, NotDaMama said:

Hi Jamie, thanks for the kind words. 

I'm looking at 44/45, after her refit in the US. I had considered doing earlier but the removal of the 40mm mounts would mean a ton of scratch building I'm not up for! 

Personally, I prefer Nelson without the bofors, but practical considerations must take precedent. 

 

That's easy peasy - she left the USA wearing Standard Scheme A in January 1945.

 

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Excellent! Thanks very much. I had a feeling that would be the scheme. 

I've seen the blue/grey B20 shown as a much lighter colour, and the G45 as almost green in some cases. This scheme is much more "grey". 

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3 minutes ago, NotDaMama said:

Excellent! Thanks very much. I had a feeling that would be the scheme. 

I've seen the blue/grey B20 shown as a much lighter colour, and the G45 as almost green in some cases. This scheme is much more "grey". 

 

Indeed there's at least one published author who portray and describe those colours as such. Unfortunately that individual has obviously never seen the Admiralty Fleet Orders, Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders or Confidential Books relating to camouflage.

 

If you want any proof on my part just shout and I'll point you to it, but shall avoid ramming it down throats until it's requested :)

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I found one of the offending patterns in my new book! 

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It has the right colours listed, but it's a rather earthy G45 and a dark grey, less blue, B20. I'm rather glad you mentioned this before I got too far into the book, I have colours that match those on the page and it would not have ended well... this won't be the most perfect Nelson build ever (it's based on an Airfix kit, its doomed from the start) but I want it to at least "look" right.  

I recall you and I have discussed the colours for tropical 109's before in some detail, so I have confidence you know what you're on about! 

 

One thing I would ask, where the flipping 'ell do the Yagi arrays go on this thing?! And can someone tell me how to make all those lovely 20mm tubs as I have only one idea and it involves straws... 

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If this enhances confidence further, the formula for G45 was first promulgated to the fleet in Admiralty Fleet Order 2106/43, the '43' denoting the year and it was in the month of May specifically. It was republished several times in other AFOs over the remainder of the war.

 

Not only is G45 and G10 stated to be the same as 507C and 507A respectively*, but the formula for making 1 cwt of A1/G.45 was:

 

Pattern 409 White Lead Oil Paste - 50lb

Pattern 371 Blue Black Paste - 7lb (this was the same black, ultramarine and inert (colourless pigment extender) stiff oil paste used for 507C since 1936 and came in 7lb cans)

Pattern 104 Zinc Oxide White - 28lbs (also a paste)

Raw linseed oil - 11 pints

White spirit - 10 pints

Pattern 773 Liquid dryers - 3 pints

 

You'll note that it's hard to mix white, ultramarine blue and black in any proportions and end up with an earthy green!

 

B20 first appeared not in this AFO but later in AFO3113 in 1944:

 

"A1/B.20

Obtained by mixing equal parts A.1/B.15 and A.1/B.30."

 

That requires knowledge of what B15 and B30 were made from, so:

 

A1/B15

Pattern 409 White Lead Oil Paste - 61lb

Pattern 371 Blue Black Paste - 14lb

Pattern 8P Blue Paste - 11.5lb (8P is known to be Ultramarine blue going back to its introduction to the RN in the mid 1930s)

Green Paste - 1lb (most likely chrome green / mid Brunswick green based on peripheral discussion elsewhere)

Pattern 110C Black Paste - 1lb

Raw linseed oil - 11 pints

White spirit - 10 pints

Pattern 773 Liquid dryers - 3 pints

 

A1/B30

Pattern 409 White Lead Oil Paste - 58lb

Pattern 371 Blue Black Paste - 20lb

Pattern 104 Zinc Oxide White - 9lbs

Pattern 8P Blue Paste - 0.5lb

Green Paste - 0.5lb

Raw linseed oil - 11 pints

White spirit - 10 pints

Pattern 773 Liquid dryers - 3 pints

 

 

 

The Yagi antennae are used on several types of radar. There are those fitted above the HACS tubs (round things on top of the bridge, and there's one at the extreme aft end of the superstructure), plus a pair were fitted like TV aerials to Nelson in that refit sticking out either side of the bridge.

 

 

 

 

*(A2 type paints, slightly different glossiness compared to A1 type paints - but for modelling purposes forget about it since the A2s were never mentioned again after this AFO. Also, the preamble to AFO2106 explains that A1 or A2 is a specific paint type, whereas G45 is a colour - so as modellers we can safely just talk about G45 but I include the "A1" stuff here for completeness)

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Wow!!! That's extremely comprehensive. I am aware of the uses of linseed oil where wood is concerned, but how would that effect the paint? 

I'm always amazed to see the small number of base paints issued and just how many colours can be produced as a result. 

Given the Standard Scheme A pattern, what colour would her decks have been? Would the turret and superstructure roofs also be G45? 

 

Bit more work done today. I've assembled the HACS platform tower, but not the HACS platform because, as you can see, the kit part bears no resemblance to the actual vessel. I'm going to have to mess with it a lot and likely find a way to scratch build part of it. 

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I've filled the portholes/window things at the stern and, now the deck edges have support as I've glued down the deck, I can form them again as closed windows. 

I've also assembled the funnel body and enlarged the holes to mount the main battery. I think the turrets sit a bit too far forward, so this should help mount them more accurately. 

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Great building so far. If you need some inspiration there is an excellent book called 'Alarm Starboard' by Geoffrey Brooke. A ripping yarn of the sea if ever there was one. It's a true story of the author from his joining the navy, first posting on HMS Nelson and on to HMS Prince of Wales from which he was one of the few survivors. And that's just the start...

 

Got mine on kindle for a few quid

 

Colin 

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10 hours ago, NotDaMama said:

Wow!!! That's extremely comprehensive. I am aware of the uses of linseed oil where wood is concerned, but how would that effect the paint? 

I'm always amazed to see the small number of base paints issued and just how many colours can be produced as a result. 

Given the Standard Scheme A pattern, what colour would her decks have been? Would the turret and superstructure roofs also be G45?

 

By 1944, the camouflage AFOs no longer had much to say on deck colours and indeed nothing is recommended or prescribed for Scheme A. I believe Nelson left the US east coast in January 1945 with bright teak decks.

 

This photograph is often captioned as being taken in 1943, but I believe that is wrong as Nelson still wore a distinctive disruptive pattern camouflage scheme which is clearly absent from the turret sides and the superfiring B turret barbette - hence I believe this was taken some time in 1945 after the refit and, by implication, when she was wearing Scheme A. The turret tops can be seen to be painted dark grey non-slip paint. This is probably either G10 coloured or possibly BS381C-32 Battleship Grey (now BS381C-632 Dark Admiralty Grey and has been since the 1960s).

 

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On 2/16/2020 at 1:56 AM, ArnoldAmbrose said:

 If this is the Airfix 1/600 scale kit I did this quite a few years ago, almost OOB. You might want to check the depth of the main turrets. From line drawings it appeared to me they were a little shallow

So I took your suggestion and have spent the last 3 hours attacking the main battery - 

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Haven't yet finished X turret but it shouldn't take too long to smooth out. 

I am a bit annoyed at the way the turret faces have sunk/lost material when they've been moulded though. That's going to need some solid surgery and more plasticard to fix! 

 

I've also ordered an ArtFX wooden deck from BNA in Oz. Should be here by March... 🤣

 

@Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies thanks very much for that, I shall add the colour to the list. 

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@Colin W thanks for the heads up on the book. Currently working my way through both the book above on the Nelson's and "Target Tirpitz" but you can never have too many!! 

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