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Liberty to Sunderland Steamer (1/350)


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I've not done historical models for a long time, mainly doing fantasy and sci-fi stuff for various RPGs and table-tops over the past 25 years.

But recently I've decided to do a naval diorama, you can see my thread on that here : 


I need a merchant ship for this, but there's not many kits available. So I need to convert the Trumpeter 1/350 liberty ship to the older "Sunderland Steamer" class, this was the design used as the basis for the much more numerous and famous Liberty, Victory and Park classes mass produced during the war. As a pre-war merchant vessel "class" there's no real single design for these. Four holds, central boiler and turbines. Super structures varied but mainly had the bridge forward of the funnel and passenger accommodation.

I've decided this will be an unspecified vessel of the Blue Funnel line in late '41, she's seen multiple North Atlantic convoys and is now en-route to the Pacific. She has been DEMS armed but not fully re-painted from her line colours, this seems to have been not un-common for lines that had colours which pretty matched the Admiralty rules for north Atlantic convoys. You can see my research and decisions in the thread above.

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Planning and superstructure :
Merchant01.png
The kit as it comes from the box, Hull cut down as it will be in about 20mm of resin in the final diorama.
I was a bit disappointed with the kit, lots of mould lines and many parts didn't match up cleanly, hence all the filling. But as the moulds are from 2004 I suppose this isn't surpirising.
Merchant02.png 

Blue is PE part, green the parts I'll have to scratch build.
Merchant03.png
Merchant04.png
The super structure parts
Merchant05.png
And as they'll sit on the hull.

Not much more I can do until the PE parts arrive from Eduard, but I'll keep this updated as I do more.
Still not sure if I'll make Goalpost type Kingposts or go with single post's yet. Both were used on this type of vessel.

If anyone's got any tips or hints, I'm eager to know what you think. I've done a lot of scratch building and kit-bashing but like I say, first time doing anything "real world" for many years.

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Posted (edited)

PE01.jpg

PE finally arrived. I've not worked with PE in this scale before.
Boiler room vents and aft kingpost / hold covers done.

I'm going to assemble the sub-assemblies as much as I can before painting. Not sure if this is the right way to do it.

Edited by TomTango
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20220702_130431.jpg

Dry assembly , I think it's starting to take shape.
The forward holds will be open, so next task is to build up the frames around them and model in some tarpaulin pulled aside to allow access.

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Thanks Rob, it's definitely interesting to do. Really stretching my somewhat lazy skillset :P
 

BridgeScratch.jpg

Just some of the scratch build around the bridge super structure that I need because of the extra deck I'm adding to the base of the bridge. It's a bit messy at the minute and needs some filling and smoothing.

Need to do a little painting now on areas that wont be accessible once I start assembly, should have an update later on this evening as I do the hatch covers.

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deckhatch.jpg

Bit of greenstuff work on A hold, B hold will also be open.

Probably going to tinker with a few bits, but I'm mainly going to move over to Prince of Wales for a few days (the second ship in the Diorama)

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Sat down to do a bit more this morning and realised my lack of experience in historical modelling is showing, I've been ruined by fantasy and sci-fi stuff where I can just make it up as I go along.
I keep coming across areas and parts of the ship that I have no idea how to do or what they should look like. Oh the power of forward planning :P

So, I started looking at rigging. I soon realised I have no idea what I am looking at.
bomrig.jpg

 

Pulling this apart, what I see is this:
5tonboom.gif

Am I more or less right?

Cargo is handled by placing one boom over the hold, the other over the target, then using the winches to swing the load from one boom to the other?

I've also been looking at the armament carried. The liberty ship has 1x3", 1x5" and 8x20mm Oerliken. This seems a bit too much for a retro-fitted merchant ship, I think I will use 1x3" and 5x20mm.

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My understanding is that just one gun, a four inch, was mounted on the stern in the early part of the war as defence against surface action.  The attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 changed all that, when the dangers from aerial attack came to the fore.  Ships were then upgraded with AA armament as and when the weapons became available, or the theatre the ships worked in demanded them,  i.e. the Pacific and Mediterranean.

 

Just a small point on your model, I don't think the deckhouse at the back had such wide wings on its poop deck.  The deck would have looked like an elongated D with narrow "docking platforms" jutting out at the time. 

 

Herewith a plan of a typical British vessel at that time, the Doxford Economy class

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and here is another: the Oceans, Forts and Parks type

 

spacer.png

 

 

cheers,

 

Mike

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Posted (edited)

Thanks,

That deck house is as it comes in the liberty kit. I was wondering about how to modify it as it did look a little too large. Most of my references are of earlier vessels with a full deck island at the stern.

Those plans are really helpful, especially the Doxford, which looks very similar to what I had already seen except with the central hold sacrificed to make space for more passengers.

I'll cut down the stern deckhouse wings and go with a single gun there (bore doesn't really matter as the guns will be under their covers anyway). AA guns I'm still not sure about, maybe one at bow, one at stern and two on the bridge superstructure. 20mm might be too much? I could always scratch build Vickers.

 

Edit : I think I've been looking at ships built by Thompson's, not Doxford's, but I suppose they both come under the broad category of a "Sunderland" class. They certainly look very similar.

Edited by TomTango
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I have other g.a. diagrams of ships and will check through them, as I get time.  I also have a fair collection of ship related books, including these three which might hold some relevant information; again, as I get time then I'll look through them for any details.

spacer.png

 

Regarding the armament, the war started of fairly slowly for arming merchant ships; with priorities being for warships.  Here is a quote from the Allied Convoy System book:

"The Admiralty had laid aside, in depots in Britain and its dependent territories overseas, such surplus weapons and equipment as has survived the post-1918 disarmament process.  The object was to be able to equip all vessels of the British Merchant Navy with adequate defensive means, specified as:

    1. At least one low angle gun of 3, 4 or 6 inch calibre (dependent on the size of the vessel) mounted aft as a defence against surface attack.

    2.  A high angle weapon for defence against air attack, usually a 12pdr on a HA mounting.

    3.  One or more rifle calibre machine guns for defence against low level air attack.

The initial supply of weapons being very limited, many small ships in coastal waters received only machine guns, and then frequently on a loan basis, the guns being withdrawn  when the ship moved to a less dangerous area".

 

Mike

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Just found Black Cat's range of deck fittings and guns for 1/350. I think I might hold off on any detailing and order some.
A 4" or 6" deck gun, a couple of 2pdr QF guns. I assume the "rifle calibre" guns are Vickers or Lewis guns, and likely not permanently mounted.

I'm going to be careful not to be too specific about the exact ship design and armament though, I don't want to pass off my model as a vessel that it isn't and getting it very accurate would require research I don't think I have time for. I'd like to have the whole build (Merchant, Prince of Wales and Diorama) done by the end of August.
So long as it's plausible as a '30's built modern freighter of around 10,000 grt I will be happy.

I hadn't expected to be learning so much though!

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bridge01.jpg

made a start on the bridge, slow going though as I am having a nightmare with the ladders. Its on it's painting jig now as well.

None of the other PE has caused me any problems but I can't get the hang of turning the steps horizontal. Probably doesn't help that I have no central field of vision in my right eye. Lack of close up depth perception is definitely and issue :P

But if anyone's got any tips on how to make the steps easier, I'm all ears.

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28 minutes ago, TomTango said:

But if anyone's got any tips on how to make the steps easier, I'm all ears.

Did you pray to the modelling gods? A pe sacrifice to the carpet monster usually does it for me. I struggle with these too, some manufacturers' seem to bend ok, but I struggle to get them all level (sometimes across a step but normally across all steps) and other manufacturers' are just a plain nightmare.

 

David

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lol. Well I made sure to do it in a part of the house with laminate flooring.

I did have a ladder ping off into the ether. But it turned up two days later in my slipper :D

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Posted (edited)

Try using a suitable thickness of styrene (strip or scrap) to push between the steps as you fold to keep 'em all at the same angle.

I wish there were more pre/ww2 merchies available in '350 I could have a convoy then!

Tom

Edited by Modelholic
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Progress has been a bit slow over the past few days, but I'm pretty much ready to start air brushing. Still some railings to go onto the hull and the mid ships superstructure has some detailing to add.

I'm a bit worried about airbrushing in this heat though.

unknown.png

unknown.png

unknown.png

unknown.png

 

assemblies in the first three photos are just dry assembled. Once I've airbrushed these, it's onto main assembly and some detailing to add. I'm in the process of converting two of the Oerliken's that came with the kit into 1pdr QF guns. These will be positioned at the forward kingpost. I'm also making two Vickers .303 guns to go on the bridge.

I made a hold interior, but I'm not happy with it, so I'll likely re-make that as well.

I'll probably steer clear of rigging the model until I've got Prince of Wales ready and both models aligned in the diorama.

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Unless you are in an air conditioned room, at approximately 23 to 25C with as much as 40% relative humidity,  I would hold off on the air brushing. No matter how much you thin your paint in this heat it will dry on the tip of the air brush or dry as the paint leaves the air brush. Other than that, your work on the model is great.

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Too hot to paint, even at 7am, so made my rigging plan for the foremost kingpost instead.
unknown.png
Foremost and aftermost posts moved inward so they don't obstruct the 4" gun and 12lb HA that will be on the bow. Pink is the rigging, going to keep it simple with just a line between the masts and the two signal halyards (I'll need these as the ship will be flying the appropriate signal flags)
unknown.png

Cargo handling rigging, first set of booms are handling a palette which is swung out to port and will be over the deck of prince of wales. Second set are rigged to carry a fuel line (in red). The second hold is open but I am going to have crew moving stores from it either by hand or with a deck derrick.
unknown.png

The rigging to control the booms. Angles are a bit hard to see I know. Don't know what these particular parts are called but the rigging to raise/lower the booms is in light blue, to move them fore/aft in yellow.
 If you scroll up you can find the images I've based this simplified version of the rigging on.

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Just the boat deck done today.


 

unknown.png

(Sorry for the blurry photo)

I pretty much destroyed one of the staircases when folding it, but other than that it went fine. Three of the boats will be on their mountings covered in tarps, one will be in the water.

With this bit done then the model actually is ready for painting!

I've ordered some Vallejo model air as trying to get my favoured citadel's through an airbrush is a painful process, I'll be using citadel for brush work though.

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