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HMS Suffolk research


Ships doc

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Hi Everyone

 

I built a 1/96 scale model of HMS Suffolk some years ago now. The model is as accurate as I could make it based at the time - Raven & Roberts publications and IWM photos as main references. (Photos on Instagram @beagleshipmodels)

 

The model has been in storage in a garage for a few years during some house moves, so now in need of some TLC and repairs. In the meantime the IWM have uploaded more photos which will help with improvements. 

 

Could I ask for help with two questions?

 

The model is mid 1941, Denmark Strait era.

 

1. The enclosed bridge. I couldn't confidently figure this out back when I built the ship, so left the bridge open pending more information on the structure in place. I had a note from Alan Raven I think on steelnavy saying there was a fixed structure by 1941. Photos clearly show the bridge had a cover over it by mid 1941. 

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205015998

However, documentation from HMS Hood website describes 'flimsy covering' on the bridge being damaged in the action.

 

https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HMS_Suffolk_Captain.jpg

I was concerned this photo was posed much later until I found the following drawing, which I'm pretty sure is of Suffolk, dated 1941 (again probably late 1941 based on another sketch by this artist, mislabeled by IWM)

 

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/86865

 

However, other later photos seem to show a cover held above the bridge, with a gap between this cover and the screens (almost like a canvas stretched across). I can't work out why This is in place, if there is a fixed bridge roof below? Does anyone know what is going on with the bridge structure? 

 

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120368

 

 

 

2. Camouflage painting (of course)

The colours are referenced as 507a, ms3, 507c - anyone disagree? I am considering repainting. I used the old colour coats 507c which has the warm tint, which I always thought looked odd - then enter Sovereign hobbies new research on the correct blue tinted shade!

 

Was the deck painted grey? (In the absence of clear info at the time I left bare wood as I planked it!!)

I guess no boot topping?

Antifouling - red or another colour?

 

If I wanted to find out more, I guess the ship's cover is the place to start?

 

Thanks!

 

James 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ships doc:

 

There are few useful photos of Suffolk, and none are definitive regarding the bridge; some show what may be an open bridge with maybe a canvas overhead cover (as you indicate), and others showing a solid deck overhead (as you also stated). And the decks look like they were painted dark gray, at least for part of Suffolk's career. The second picture below looks like Suffolk had black boot topping with a lighter (red or gray?) antifouling paint used below the waterline. Compare these pictures (some of which are the photos you posted links to--I am inserting them directly here):

 

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Here are some model photos which show different interpretations of the bridge and deck colors which might be of use to you:

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And you must check out these pictures of a fantastic 1/96 scale Suffolk with an open bridge--which I was unfortunately unable to transfer here, as the photos seem to be copy protected:

http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=202855&p=787909&hilit=suffolk#p787909

 

HTH!

 

Mike E.

Edited by michaele
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Mike

 

Thanks for posting these photos! I have not got the hang of the image posting here yet. But the replies here are usually the best ones!

 

That is my model of Suffolk on the modelwarships site 🙂 I forgot I had posted photos there. That was during construction, no rigging or railings added.

 

I'm glad you agree nothing is definitive.

 

These are the main photos I've been looking at. It's helpful to see them all together. I think the card model's interpretation of the bridge is probably correct, for June 1941 - late 1941 at least. It may have been modified again in the 1942 refit. The photo of her with the stern awash after operation duck 1940 is helpful as it shows the bridge was enclosed this early. Also the boot topping and antifouling is visible, which I had not registered!

 

Looking at all the photos I agree the decks probably were grey from at least 1941-43.

 

This is all really helpful, more confident making these changes now when I get to the refit.

 

James 

 

Edited by Ships doc
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Your Suffolk is beautiful... please post pictures when done with the refit!

 

And here are some additional photos of the bridge which may help from the IWM site.

 

The site claims this is Suffolk in 1941:

 

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And it says this is Suffolk in 1944:

 

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And here is the bridge cover on HMS Norfolk in 1945, which was somewhat different it appears, but might provide some thoughts about how the bridge on a similar County class cruiser was enclosed:

 

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Hope this helps in some small way.

 

Best,

 

Mike E.

Edited by michaele
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Hi Mike

 

Thanks for posting these photos & your kind comments about the model.

 

The one from 1944 is interesting as it looks like the roof can be opened? 

 

Also the one of Norfolk - good to compare other related ships! 

 

Keen to get this bit right as the bridge is part of the model people focus on, the eye is drawn to it. Almost like the 'face' of the ship!

 

Thanks again for your help

James 

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Sam:

 

Then you'll need to see how Maarten Schonfeld and Phil Reeder converted their Trumpeter HMS Cornwall kits in 1/350 to HMS Suffolk...

 

http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=202855&hilit=hms+suffolk+conversion

 

http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=214556&p=811132&hilit=HMS+Suffolk#p811132

 

Enjoy!

 

Mike E.

Edited by michaele
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9 hours ago, michaele said:

Sam:

 

Then you'll need to see how Phil Reeder converted the Trumpeter HMS Cornwall in 1/350 to HMS Suffolk...

 

http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=202855&hilit=hms+suffolk+conversion

 

Enjoy!

 

Mike E.

Thanks Mike, that's my lunchtime reading at work sorted!

 

Sam

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I haven't studied HMS Suffolk in any depth, but I'll tag @dickrd here as I state that I think Raven's 507A suggestion is predicated on his erroneous understanding that 507A was rather darker than it really was and that 507B was an intermediate lighter tone.

 

Once that's understood and it's realised that all the single-colour ships of the Home Fleet were 507A which was exactly the same colour as 507B, and then we look at HMS Suffolk in 1941, I don't think we can say for sure that the darkest tone is 507A.

 

Again without having studied the ship, at a glance I think the darkest tone looks like MS1 or MS2 at a push. It looks much too dark for what 507A really looked like.

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@michaele - yes the positions of the forward 4 inch guns are wrong in the hobbycom.jp build, they are too far forward. Cornwall and Suffolk differed here (as did others in the class). Should be further back, with the boat further onboard under the crane jib.

 

@Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies oh dear, I thought it would be simple but opened the can of worms!  I always assumed Alan Raven was referring to written evidence when he wrote the warship camo guides!? Great to get your thoughts on this.

 

In the overhead photo above, the darkest tone looks close to the deck tone (compare B turret top to the adjacent deck, so lit from same angle). The 'non slip' deck paint is pretty close to 507a on another model I have, but I don't have samples of ms1&2. 

 

For info: my model (link in Mike's post above) was painted using the old colourcoats shades c.2013-14. I don't think the old "507c" / "507a" tone difference is too far out? I know the old 507c is wrong (warm tone), and the old 507c is darker I think? Maybe having the larger model painted up helps us evaluate things here. Photos are taken on various days in both indoor and outdoor light. 

 

These are all just observations, keeping an open mind & interested to hear thoughts!

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12 minutes ago, Ships doc said:

I don't think the old "507c" / "507a" tone difference is too far out? I know the old 507c is wrong (warm tone), and the old 507c is darker I think?

 

Neither is hugely far off in isolation, but to make space for the spurious "Medium Grey" the 507A is a bit (but noticeably) too dark and the 507C a bit (but noticeably) too light. The Raven / Snyder & Short 507C is actually bluish, just not quite enough. The 2014 era WEM creamy 507C was simply because the only person QC'ing the batches was clinically colour blind and numerous paints had drifted a long way from where they should have been.

 

FactFiction.png

 

The effect is that when both of these colours are on the same scheme there is an especially jarring contrast on a model not evident looking at photos of the real thing. Furthermore, very dark shades were often misidentified as 507A due to not actually knowing what 507A looked like. Actually the latter was definitely not restricted to 507A - lots of paints on warships were misidentified thanks to misunderstanding the true appearance of the paints who's names were being bandied about.

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Thanks Jamie, I need to have another look over the publications on your site to get my head around the relative differences between ms1/2/507a and ms4/507c.

 

Amazing re the colourblind QC person! I thought it looked odd but convinced myself it was the fluorescence lights in the workshop!

 

Some other notes  - the pattern evolved in 1941, I think with the addition of the lightest tone on funnel tops and hangar in late 1941 (evident on the photo on the Tyne in 1942). I think the other tones pattern was progressively simplified. I'm personally most interested in mid 1941, which is around the Bismarck chase. The ship was photographed in June 1941 - lots of photos on IWM.

 

think there are only three tones in mid 1941.

 

Thinking of other ships - the complex pattern seems to have more in common with Prince of Wales than other patterns eg HMS Kent 1942. So I wonder about ms1 (darkest), ms4 (lightest) and then something in the middle (ms3?) as an alternative? This is just speculation though!

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If you spend some time looking at some of the close up photographs on the IWM site such as A4169, A4170, A4171, A4191, A4192 and FL6093 for example, I think there's no way the lightest colour on the hull is 507C. Without spending more time on this, at a glance that scheme looks much more like MS1 (or MS2 at the lightest), MS3 and MS4 on the hull with potential for a few small patches of 507C e.g. on the funnels and hangar.

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Hi Jamie, thanks for looking at this, appreciate your insights.

 

I guess to find out more (in the absence of colour photos/film/artwork, to my knowledge at least) would the ship's cover/ national archives be the place to start? I think Suffolk was at Scapa Flow in 1942 at the time of the 'camouflage observations document' so I wonder if there are any notes there. 

 

Thanks again!

James 

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The Ships Cover is always worth a look. I'd also be interested in which brand of protective and anti-fouling she wore. When you first built the model everyone assumed all ships were red underneath. We now know they were not all red.

 

I think I have that observation report. I need to look it out...

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On 6/12/2023 at 3:16 PM, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

I haven't studied HMS Suffolk in any depth, but I'll tag @dickrd here...

 

Again without having studied the ship, at a glance I think the darkest tone looks like MS1 or MS2 at a push. It looks much too dark for what 507A really looked like.

 

In haste. Will try to make time to look at this properly over the weekend. Agree, in May 1941 darkest hull colour obviously MS1 (rather than 507A) and lightest hull colour MS4 (rather than 507C).

 

I looked through the County Class Ships' Covers last year. You will find no info in them relevant to the camouflage paint scheme.

Edited by dickrd
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On 6/13/2023 at 6:09 PM, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

The Ships Cover is always worth a look. I'd also be interested in which brand of protective and anti-fouling she wore... 

 

 

 

That I do know!

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On 6/13/2023 at 7:18 PM, Ships doc said:

Yes there a few details on refits I hope might also be in the Ship's Cover. Need to find a day to get down to London then...

 As a generalisation the Covers tend to contain much detail of the design and build phase (of the sub-class:)

DSC_0543 - Copy

 

but not so much about subsequent refits unless there was a major rebuild.

 

The place where you would normally find a detailed record of changes made during refits was the Ship's Book, but Suffolk's does not survive.

 

The other place to look is on her 'As Fitteds' where external modifications are often inked or pencilled in over the original as built plans.

  

Edited by dickrd
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@dickrd Thank you for looking into this, it's all very interesting! Helpful to know the Ship's Cover is probably not the place to go.

 

Some of the as fitteds are scanned at low resolution on the rmg website, this suggests the modifications are only shown in the major refit 1937 but I might get in touch with them too to see if this is correct, there are some notes referring to a 1940 drawing.

 

I also wondered about the Fairfield Shipyard archives in Glasgow, as this is where the 1940/41 refit happened after the ship was damaged in operation duck. (Also where the camouflage scheme was first applied I think). 

 

@Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies - which program do you use to draw your profiles? I did some sketches of the tone map to guide the painting back in 2014 which I could try to draw up on the computer. 

 

Thanks again!

James 

 

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20 minutes ago, Ships doc said:

@Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies - which program do you use to draw your profiles? I did some sketches of the tone map to guide the painting back in 2014 which I could try to draw up on the computer.

 

 

I use Adobe Illustrator for all mine. Any Vector drawing package which lets you work in layers will work though. Pixel drawing is no use as you can't place colours properly.

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Just been looking over the photos of Suffolk again. Compared to other photos of HFG vs MS1 I'm almost certain the darkest tone is MS1 (as already indicated by @dickrd@Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies above).

 

Comparing to some of the other colour schemes recently updated (eg KGV, Howe, Jamaica) and the corresponding photographs, I agree MS4 is likely to be the lightest tone. 507c seems almost white in most photos, but there is a clear difference between the lightest tone and the "white" patches on the hangar on Suffolk in 1942. Also noted that in most of the other schemes MS4 is the 'base' colour with smaller areas of 507c. However I don't think 507c is 100% ruled out. 

 

Still not sure about the medium tone, I think either MS3 or B5. Maybe MS3 as it seems close to the lightest tone, sometimes hard to tell apart depending on the lighting. However also note that B5 seems common in other schemes with MS1 & MS4 (although this is based on quite a small sample size). 

Edited by Ships doc
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi everyone

Have been doing some more trawling of online records for more clues - not much luck, mostly things I had seen before. Most things seem to reference the Raven profile 507c/MS3/507a.

 

I tried searching for contemporary artwork of Suffolk - no real success as yet. There is one by Eric Erskine Campbell Tufnell but the pattern and details of the ship are wrong so not helpful. 

 

For later artwork; (which is clearly not a very reliable source but worth reviewing)

There is a painting by Peter Gerald Baker dated 1979 so a while after 1941, but before the Raven profile book. The scene is fictional, potentially painted from a photo of Suffolk - the profile looks similar to a known photo, and is pretty accurate.

https://www.askart.com/auction_records/Peter_Gerald_Baker/11269443/Peter_Gerald_Baker.aspx?lot=3766987&source=AUCTION_RECORD

Some interesting points about this painting

1- the medium grey looks greenish to me, consistent with ms3. However, the image looks yellowed overall.

2- the antifouling is dark grey/ black (I don't know what Suffolk actually had).

 

I haven't been able to find many details of Peter Gerald Baker, but most of his paintings seem to be of sailing ships. (Tempting to speculate he had a connection to HMS Suffolk!)

 

There is also this picture

https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/threads/hms-hesperus-h57-painting-by-john-rowan-dominy.53089/

Date not clear. The pattern is not quite correct (out of sync with the fit of the ship). Interestingly the medium tone is blue in this one. Probably not reliable?

 

Finally - the centrespread colour profile in the 'Man O War' book on County class cruisers shows the medium tone as blue, which is confusing. 

 

In summary - not much help! Still have:

Dark tone: MS1

Medium tone: MS3 or B5

Light tone: MS4 or 507c

 

James 

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