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Potential project - 1/200 HMS Ajax - Leander class cruiser


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Hi everyone. At this stage, this is a potential project. I'd like to do something a little different and the advent of 3D printing and the explosion of good parts now available makes a lot of the detailed stuff which I enjoy having but don't so much enjoy scratchbuilding makes this seem less daft an idea than it might have, say, 5 years ago.

 

I'm sure everyone's aware of HMS Ajax. She was a Leander class light cruiser, pennant number 22. She was laid down in 1933 and completed in 1935. She's possibly most famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate as Commodore Henry Harwood's flagship along with sister ship HMNZS Achillies and the York class heavy cruiser HMS Exeter against the German Panzerschiff Admiral Graf Spee. Displacing around 7,300 tons standard, sporting eight 6" guns in four turrets and capable of 32.5 knots she'd go on to serve throughout and after the war. The full colour 1956 film "The Battle of the River Plate" actually features HMS Ajax in it along with Achillies which is not an authenticity many films can boast. HMS Jamaica stood in for HMS Exeter. Many only find fault with that film because USS Salem plays the part of Graf Spee owing to the fact that there were no Deutschland class Panzerschiffs left to use in the movie. some people find fault with everything though. I think the film is good and well worth a watch today.

 

I'm thinking about building this ship in 1/200 scale. Why? Because there aren't many cruisers out there in 1/200 scale and it would be rewarding to do so. I could build it in 1/350 which would be cheaper and use a lot of parts I could cadge from our own stock, but there's an Iron Ship Wrights resin kit available in 1/350. It's expensive and ISW gets very mixed reviews, but some part of me feels like it's daft to contemplate scratch building something there's a kit out there of.

 

I have two sets of plans for her in 1941/1942 fit. I find the Alexandria type camouflage interesting, but not as interesting as the Leamington Spa designs from 1942 onwards. I've been window shopping for parts and good 1/200 Pom Poms appear to be lacking in the market.

 

The Greenwich Maritime Museum has some of the key parts of the original 1934 plans scanned and online. This would get me more or less to her River Plate appearance with the tall pole masts, unshielded secondary guns and the catapult fitted. The paint is uncontentiously 507C which is nice and easy, but not especially interesting to look at although not unattractive.

 

Her best camouflage design in terms of an opportunity to use my paints was applied in 1943, but that would require more ferreting about looking for details, and the number of AA weapons will have gone up again.

 

I'm leaning towards her as-built appearance.

 

The plans easiest to use would be Profile Morskie's which come printed at 1/400 scale. These include hull forms and stations as well as lots of good clear drawings and sections for the superstructure as of 1941. Profile Morskie generally offers a good product although he often gets a bad write-up for his accuracy. I decided to check his drawings against the original builder's plans.

 

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Generally Profile Morskie isn't a million miles away, although the builder's drawings at GMM give a finer form below the waterline and there is a bit too much sheer end to end. In addition the placement of the knuckle at the bow is a bit different. Surprising to see is that her inner and outer screws are different diameters which I had never realised before, and the centres of the shafts is also different to that shown on Profile Morskie.

 

In elevation they are pretty close, save for the differences in sheer that are implicit in the hull sections above:

 

3dbd1684-7af4-4ada-98f1-0962c929f1e5.png

There is slightly more rake on the bow according to the plans on the Greenwich Maritime Museum's site.

 

3bbdc28d-84c6-4d2f-af04-6158c20296bf.png

Not too much different above the waterline but the difference in placement of the screws and their shafts is more dramatic. Also worthy of comment is the difference in shape of the rudder.

 

Lastly, Profile Morskie is there or thereabouts in terms of the planform of the hull and placement of barbettes and bits of superstructure.

5de81cd9-265b-443a-8b36-a31f2fed88b3.png

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The differences in placement of secondary mounts around the base of the funnel are associated with the post-River Plate repairs and refit.

 

 

This is perhaps an early or even premature thread, but I'd welcome any chit chat vaguely related to the topic, and I shall probably make a start on drawing the essence of my own construction parts in Illustrator to print out at 1/200 this evening. I may be a lazy git and ask one of 4 people I know with laser cutters to cut me some formers. I love this sort of construction and miss building r/c aircraft from my own drawings, but cutting out formers does get tedious after the first one I will admit. Assembling them is another matter entirely though!

 

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Got my attention, definitely!  Sir Gareth has clearly sated your taste for the tiny, so you’re going the opposite way, though actually a cruiser-sized vessel in 1/200 would be very manageable.  [Go one, someone; give a 1/200 RN carrier!]

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I actually have plans here for HMS Eagle (the one sunk on Op Pedestal) and Attacker. I did consider Eagle but it's a complicated beast and if I do this, it needs to be something that sounds harder than it actually is - which I think Ajax will fulfil nicely!

 

I'd like to build one of the armoured carriers. Perhaps the Indomitable, in some ways because I like the name and the camouflage she wore. I'd need to get plans for one of those though.

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Hi Jamie

 

That sounds like the sort of project I have started doing, the main difference being my 1/200th warships are radio controlled and I tend to simplify the fine detail to ensure that I don't have too many bits falling off during each sail and stability issues can limit my options on what the fittings are made of, especially those that are high up.  My starting point is the appropriate card model, usually of Eastern European origin,  with the hull mainly thin plywood and plastic card or lithoplate for superstructure ( even using the card bits in some cases where no strength is needed).  Fittings from a variety of sources including using the accessories already provided by the card model maker ( PE and gun barrels ), 3D printed and also raided from existing 1/200th kits - I bought several extra issues of the Hachette partwork Hood for boats, carley floats and 4"guns for example.  HMS Abdiel was my first one as shown, and I am fitting out HMS Saumarez at the moment.  HMS Black Prince is being researched for the next one although I need to use the official drawings as well as a Naiad card model in that particular case.  Did you look at Mark Hawkin's 3D Boats range of fittings via Shapeways? He did a set of 4 of the correct 4.7" guns for Saumarez for me recently.  He does have a 1/200th quad pom pom but the barrels would need to be brass because of printing issues.spacer.png

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Hi Francis,

 

Your Abdiel looks good there. Another chap has directed me to an eastern European card model of Sydney and the associated laser cut parts. Given the origins though it seems a safe bet that they're based on Profile Morskie plans and that laser cut parts wouldn't advance me very far with this one on that basis. If I didn't now know better I'd probably use them, but I do so I can't if you see what I mean!

 

I did however locate the hull sheer lines drawing in GMM's website last night but only a very low-resolution image is available. They offer a full size paper print of it in colour for £83 in the original 1/48 scale but that seems both expensive and unhelpful in this particular instance as what I really want is the scanned image! I shall contact them and enquire about getting the full sheer lines drawing electronically which would be the utopia reference for the hull by my reckoning :)

 

 

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Hi Jamie

 

I purchased the Sheer line drawing for the Dido class and a profile for a T class destroyer from GMM fairly recently and the routine is they charge £50 ( + VAT) for a copy of the high definition scan of each drawing if it has already been scanned and £70 if you are the first to ask for one.  At least someone has already scanned the one you want.  I had to pay the same rates a while back when I got the official drawings of HMS Mimi (a 40' Thorneycroft launch) but what slightly irks me is that the thumbnail of those on their website  are pretty much good enough to build a model as they are!   Seaforth publications have been doing books of the official drawings of various RN WW2 subjects so perhaps the Leander class might be covered eventually that way too.

 

I do note Norman Ough also did a 1/192nd plan of Ajax but the listing in the book about his models doesn't say that this included hull lines 

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Jamie,

 

That sounds an interesting project.  I've a preference for 1/200 scale. In my opinion it is perfect for destroyers. Larger ships look really impressive, but are more difficult to store/display. 

 

I've been experimenting using card models as templates for plastic construction. I think they would be best described as a helpful aid to scratch building. For many card models you can purchase laser cut frames, and dedicated photo-etch.  I've collected about 20 Royal Navy card model subjects in 1/200  over the years, including the GPM card model of Ajax (but this is one of the few that I do not have the frame set for).  If you can pick up the frame set for this kit, it will make scratch building the hull a lot easier, in my opinion. You probably know that Micro Master (Simon Percival) makes a complete range of 1/600 scale parts for the Airfix Ajax. You could ask him to rescale to 1/200. Simon's a helpful guy. He might be willing to help.

 

I have most of the MacGregor plans of  Royal Navy subjects - including Ajax drawn by Norman Ough.  Here's a quick and dirty snap of the plans.  Last night's wine glass for scale.

 

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The scale was originally 1 inch = 16 feet (1/192), but they've clearly been professionally enlarged. Sadly, the plans are 1948 fit (last commission). If you are serious about the project I could loan you the plans when lockdown restrictions are lifted?

Edited by iang
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17 hours ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

Got my attention, definitely!  Sir Gareth has clearly sated your taste for the tiny, so you’re going the opposite way, though actually a cruiser-sized vessel in 1/200 would be very manageable.  [Go one, someone; give a 1/200 RN carrier!]

Aha, funny you should say that..........well you know how there are occasional moments in life when anything seems like a good idea (normally after too much beer)..... what do you think of a very "Mighty Vic "(1961) IMHO the most attractive of the post war carriers, also there is a family connection and I was Baptised on her in 1961 !

I couldn't resist buying the Orel paper kit, but just couldn't get my head around building it as a paper model, so as already suggested it is forming "a helpful guide to scratchbuilding", it is rather large though !

I am thinking maybe I should start a WIP thread on it as well and we can start a big boys club !

 

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I will be following this with great interest, I have only just discovered 1/200 scale myself, and I think I am probably hooked, Ajax would make an extremely attractive large model, full hull or waterline ?

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Hi everyone.

 

RMG has replied already which is faster than I expected. As forewarned above, the price is £50+VAT per drawing and I'll get it via FTP link. That could get very expensive very quickly, but I reckon it's probably just the one drawing I really need a good copy of so perhaps not toooooo painful. I'm just not sure I could bring myself to use something other than the original plans for the hull now I have become aware of the Leander class' unique features such as different inner and outer screw diameters! I really want to get that knuckle at the bow right too. Other things I'm a little more relaxed about, perhaps curiously for others, because there are many more photographs I can compare plans to of the upperworks than there are of the ship's shape below the waterline.

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Good morning (just),

 

I have received the drawing from the National Maritime Museum, and it's a beauty. I love this sort of thing.

 

Overall comparison with Profile Morskie isn't too damning of the modern plans, but the original plans show less sheer and thus by comparison the Profile Morskie plans have a bit of a banana boat look. Not too bad but I'm going to use the originals, needless to say.

 

3924bbf0-78a8-428e-aa51-aa2ba0fccd89.png

 

For those who are unaware, a common way to measure a ship is using "length between the perpendiculars" which can seem curious to the uninitiated. One the original drawing you will see a vertical line through the rudder post and another through the hull rake at the waterline. The length between these is 522 feet. Converting to metric which is far more convenient and to 1/200 scale the length between perpendiculars is 795.3mm. This is an easy way to get confused and under-scale the model by used the length between perpendiculars then applying the dimension to length at waterline or worse length overall!

 

Here's how the bows compare. The Leander class cruiser sits slightly stern-down, with 2 feet 4 inches deeper draft at the stern perpendicular than at the bow perpendicular when correctly trimmed. This isn't captured by Profile Morskie and combined with the excess sheer at Main and Forecastle decks conspire to make a deeper hull forward than was actually there.

 

resized_9464d943-8265-4f63-9ca3-5b4dccc1

 

Here is the stern:

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You may note a pair of marks on the stern captioned "CP" which denote the propeller (or screw) positions, along with extended lines forward showing the centrelines of the inner and outer shafts. These are in completely different positions on the who sets of plans.

 

 

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On 4/16/2020 at 1:42 AM, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

the Leander class' unique features such as different inner and outer screw diameters!

Gidday Jamie, I never knew that. Did the same apply to the subsequent "Perth" class? I've made models of both, but at 1/600 scale I can't image there'd be much difference.

Regards, Jeff.

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  • 2 months later...

I have managed to make a start on this. It'll be a slow burner like most of my stuff.

 

I'm beginning with a vector drawing which is a direct trace of the National Maritime Museum sheer lines drawing, and once that's done I will rearrange the cross sections along the profile to check their heights and work out what the main and forecastle deck profiles themselves need to look like, since the actual sheer lines show the ship's sheer rather than being a true cross section at each station.

 

Once that's done, I will probably trace 3 more horizontals, or maybe 4 - we'll see. The one you see below the side elevation is the average waterline.

 

Once that's done, I will start drawing what you might consider the engineering drawings which take into account how I intend to construct the hull with a suitable breakdown of interlocking slots and subtractions for external facing material thickness on the decks and hull sides.

 

1437d2c4-617a-4023-9aea-ca13fe6e7ad7.jpg

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Thanks Kevin. I've just realised how awful that image is now. It's a very large file size with the template being a high resolution scan of a 1/48 original scaled down to 1/200 so I'm drawing it all true to the size I want to make it. Taking a pixel image reduced to online hosting size it looks pretty naff I admit!

 

I will try scoring plasticard on the Cricut maker in due course.

 

 

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How will you drive the Cricut Jamie? Can it behave like a printer? 
I have only ever seen my wife using the free templates you get on the Cricut software, I didn’t realise it could do anything else. And now that we have two, I could persuade her to try some styrene through one of them

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8 hours ago, FlyingSpanner said:

How will you drive the Cricut Jamie? Can it behave like a printer? 
I have only ever seen my wife using the free templates you get on the Cricut software, I didn’t realise it could do anything else. And now that we have two, I could persuade her to try some styrene through one of them

 

The Cricut Maker is a good machine and can simultaneously hold a pen and a cutting tool of various types (knives, wheels etc), but unfortunately tied and encrypted (apparently) to only work through the god-awful Cricut Design Space web app software. There's a version which can be downloaded now...

 

The best way to do this is to avoid using the Cricut software as far as is humanly possible and do as much of your design as possible elsewhere. It needs to be a vector drawing tool rather than a pixel drawing tool because the Cricut will eventually follow the vector lines. I use Adobe Illustrator which I've been trying to learn to use for the amateurish graphics we need for our minimalist website (we chose minimalist because it looks more like a style choice rather than incompetence on my part and lack of budget to pay someone who actually knows what they're doing! :D )

 

e.g. in Illustrator even a technophobe like me can knock this up in layers thus:

 

Line drawing as the top layer so this will always show:

5bdbc63b-56ce-4a02-9289-ef3fe35db54b.png

 

Markings as the second layer, so these will always show unless hidden by a line above:

9c7069bc-c047-4ff4-862b-3e30ef42d4e6.png

 

Camouflage as a third layer is simply a colouring-in exercise then using block shapes. These will show behind the lines and the markings:

7fecbd5a-5ea6-49eb-91c8-f53fae8a2e7a.png

 

And once I've done all that I paste it into a size-formatted template which matches the sizes and layout of commercially manufactured die-cut sticker paper which goes through an ordinary laser printer. 6 stickers per A4 sheet, 80mm x 80mm and centre-to-centre each copy is 90mm apart horizontally and vertically. Adobe Illustrator makes this pretty easy so I don't need to create a whole new label for each design. I have a template, I update the words on it, tell it to look at a different colour swatch from our master folder and drop in the plane or ship thus:

64933bb2-1db1-4ef1-8ced-622c7541e327.png

 

 

So, applying this to Cricut does mean you can do things besides Happy Birthday shapes cut out of glitter paper although that's painfully clearly what Cricut think everyone wants to do with it... Gill reminds me that the reason a Cricut is available so relatively cheaply is because there are thousands of people who do buy them to cut out Happy Birthday letters since us lot wanting to use them for model making are somewhat fewer in number!

 

You draw your artwork in Illustrator as before:

9bdfe19b-cd96-4a0f-b19e-1a1fa81a26bc.png

 

Cricut isn't intelligent enough to just cut wherever there's a line; you have to show it a full path but Illustrator is easy in that respect too. Here I will highlight the "paths" I have drawn and will use the Right-Click menu to Make Continuous Path. Now Cricut will know to follow the whole line and not get stuck where I've joined two lines at the same point.

1597f2b2-6da3-4d12-a8ed-fc0525e248b7.png

 

Illustrator is best for scaling this too, meaning you won't need to actually manipulate the shapes you want in Cricut design space...

 

Changing over to Cricut Design Space now, you can import your vector drawing and it arrives correctly scaled. It will however take all the colours with it, and will assume you want to cut all the pieces out in different coloured card to Pritt Stick together to hang from a string above the front door to welcome your F-4B loving modelling party guests - so on the right hand side you can drag and drop all the discreet "continuous path" elements into the same colour block. A bit of a faff but easy to do once you know to do it. Cricut will no longer try to do these parts in separate cutting operations on separate material boards.

738a9eee-7e03-494b-96b6-6fc3c273e5eb.png

 

An assumption / feature of Cricut Design Space which I found infuriating for doing paint masks but may actually be useful for cutting model ship parts is that, as above, it assumes you want all your shapes as solid parts. If you want to cut out what's actually on the screen the way it looks on the screen, you have to Group the parts:

1deb2170-4f6c-415d-8085-7142065a7e05.png

 

Otherwise it helpfully dismantles everything you've drawn and arranges it all separately the step prior to actually hitting the Go button on the machine. For masks, that makes it pretty useless since the lightning bolt is removed from its surrounding rectangle and cut separately, whilst the rectangle with a lightning bolt shape cut out for my dad to airbrush through comes out as a solid rectangle. In the case of a ship though, I could draw all the hull forms nested as they're shown on the original drawing and Cricut will rearrange them all as separate shapes. As it turns out, it's easier to draw one at a time in Illustrator anyway and drag them out of the way for later so I don't accidently end up joining one to another's vector path. What Cricut Design Space will do later though is rearrange all the bits to give me more efficient use of the plasticard, in theory at least. I fully expect to have to arrange them all myself and lock them into that arrangement using the Group function.

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Wow, thanks for the comprehensive reply! I appreciate you taking the time to write that, and also including the images to illustrate your text. Very helpful

 

I’m sure I’ll be back later to ask more questions once I have googled ‘vector’ ‘grouping’ ‘illustrator’ etc 😂

 

I don’t think my ten year old iPad is going to be the right tool for this job

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6 minutes ago, FlyingSpanner said:

Wow, thanks for the comprehensive reply! I appreciate you taking the time to write that, and also including the images to illustrate your text. Very helpful

 

I’m sure I’ll be back later to ask more questions once I have googled ‘vector’ ‘grouping’ ‘illustrator’ etc 😂

 

I don’t think my ten year old iPad is going to be the right tool for this job

 

No problem! I'm a million miles from expert in this, but the key thing that differentiates a vector drawing from a pixel drawing is that pixels are spots of colour arranged to form an image, whereas a vector is a mathematical line between two points. A pixel image such as a .png, .tiff or .jpeg when scaled up goes blocky. A vector image can be scaled infinitely but the aspect the Cricut needs is that the blade will follow the mathematical line between points.

 

This is a view of my tracing here. I have the hi-resolution scan of the original ink drawing as a background Layer, and I am drawing vector lines on top.

 

resized_04abd34c-bc16-4e07-bf6f-45564712

 

If we zoom right in on the stern post rudder hinge you can see that even the high resolution scan, which is a pixel file, turns blocky and hence the Cricut wouldn't know how to follow that - it can't tell one pixel from the next like our brains can. Equally though you can see the vector lines I'm drawing. It's just a series of die-straight lines between point A and point B, C and so on, some of which are bent using a tool for bending straight lines.

 

d9a80528-30c3-4c5a-957c-63088e565760.png

 

The vector line is being shown at 0.25mm wide, but it can be shown at any thickness including zero mm wide - a mathematical line is 1-dimensional concept rather than a physical line. Even set to zero it's still there, only invisible and the Cricut's blade would still follow it like a road map. Of course, being set to zero does make it rather difficult to see what you've drawn :D

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Adobe Illustrator is pretty easy to use. You don't need to type in commands and coordinates like old-fashioned AutoCAD from 20odd years ago...

 

I begin with drawing a simple set of straight lines from corners to corners - you can see the basic Pen tool for straight lines highlighted on the toolbar to the left of the screen:

resized_7a70b572-725b-40fb-9003-68f020f5

 

Next I change to the curvy modifier tool (seen on the toolbar to the left which allows me to add points to a straight line and pull them around to bend the line. The line will bend in a surprisingly intuitive way to keep curves continuous (but more advanced methods can further modify this, although it's seldom necessary in my limited experience). Initially it might cause a curve I don't want like this:

resized_ade10471-efe4-4a21-8cdd-57015444

 

However as I add the rest of the curvature points it falls into a mathematically agreeable shape which in itself shows the skill of these old draughtsmen and naval architects in the 1920s because the sheer lines of the ship also happen to be mathematically agreeable! That's more impressive than any amount of playing around in a computer drawing software package!

resized_9d4dcf0a-f7c7-4f5f-b94a-2de28383

 

There are handy scaling and "transform" tools to flip this around an axis of my choosing. If I copy and paste the above, then Transform>Reflect>Vertical it will be flipped on its vertical axis giving me the mirror image for the other side.

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Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy (& also rather satisfying); I did something very similar when producing my 1/350 drawings of Fearless - in my case using Pixelmator on a Mac rather than Illustrator, but same difference.

 

If you will forgive the intrusion into your thread, for example...

FS 82 hull form fore & aft

 

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