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HMS Sheffield, Gibraltar & the Med, Sept 41


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       Gidday All, while I don't like to have more than one project on the go at any one time my current build is almost done, so I think I can safely start this. I nominated for this GB and voted for it so I feel a bit guilty that I haven't started it yet. But to make recompense  .   .   .

.   .   .  I've done a few RN cruisers over the years, two of them are derivatives of the Southampton (Town) class, but I haven't done a ship of the original class yet. So I thought I'd do HMS Sheffield, the "Shiny Sheff". She had quite a career. She was one of the first warships to be fitted with radar, one of the first RN ships to fire her guns in anger in WW2, she shadowed the Bismarck and in doing so came under a 'friendly' aerial torpedo attack, was fired upon by Bismarck, was Rear-Adm Burnett's flagship at the Battle of the Barents Sea, was part of Vice-Adm Burnett's (he'd been promoted) cruiser squadron a year later when they fought off the Scharnhorst off North Cape, to name a few highlights.

 

       As is usual for me I'll be working in the 1/600 scale, of which there aren't any dedicated kits that I know of, so I'll convert an Airfix HMS Belfast kit. Below is the box art. I've decided not to include the kit parts in the photo.  They're just lots and lots of grey bits of styrene. Also as is usual for me I won't be using PE but I'll make any other parts I need.

SHEFF10 box art

       I'll have to make two major modifications to the hull. HMS Sheffield was 22 feet shorter than HMS Belfast so I'll have to shorten the hull by 11mm, in fact I've already done that. I'll also have to remove the bulges fitted to the sides of Belfast, a feature that was unique to her. They were added as part of her reconstruction after running over a mine. I don't know how much styrene I'll have to remove so before I remove the bulges I've decided to pack the insides of them with extra styrene strips to prevent (hopefully) having wafer-thin sides. These strips can also reinforce the join of the hull fwd and aft halves, which is why I did the hull shortening first.

 

    Below is the first stage of packing out the hull bulges.

SHEFF40 reinforcing hull 1

       After I cut the hull shorter (rather crudely as my home-make mitre jig was of mediocre success) I pinned the two halves to a wood block, glued those two short joining pieces to the bottom and have now glued a strip of styrene 5mm deep from a sheet 0.4mm thick (left over from my Flower class corvette build). When the glue sets I'll do the other side. Then add more as I go. I'd rather have too much hull thickness than not enough when I get out the angle-grinder.

 

       Well, that's as far as I've gone. In the background you can see my almost complete Fletcher class destroyer, USS Mullany. So, stay safe and keep on modeling.

Regards to all, Jeff.

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       Gidday Guys, thanks for your encouragement. And Stuart aka @CourageousSheffield is feeling lonely, needs company and HMS Rodney will fit the bill perfectly.

I've completed adding the first layer of hull internal packing, all with 0.4mm thick styrene strips. The first strip/strake in the photo above was 5mm deep, held with pegs as you can see. All the rest are 2mm deep and I simply held then with my fingers while the glue set. I thought shallower strips would follow the hull curve better. They look a bit rough, because they are but it shouldn't matter.

SHEFF50 first hull packing 1

       Since the photo was taken I've removed the pins, plus glued a styrene strip to the centre of the hull 'floor' to cover the holes. Although the hull athwartships join is a bit rough the hull looks straight and feels solid and rigid. I intend to add another layer of styrene strips inside the first, but vertical this time, to hedge my bets. These will also be of 0.4mm styrene. I've got plenty of it.

 

So that's it for now. Thank you for your interest, stay safe and keep on modeling. Regards to all, Jeff.

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17 hours ago, ArnoldAmbrose said:

hull athwartships join is a bit rough the hull looks straight and feels solid and rigid.

That's all that counts at this stage. When the decks go on, you'll see nothing and I'm sure the external hull will eventually look great too. 

Shouldn't be to long before I can start on Rodney.

 

Stuart

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Jeff, welcome to the GB with the Shiny Sheff.

 

What colour scheme did she wear whilst with Force H?

 

Good luck with your build.

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14 hours ago, Wez said:

What colour scheme did she wear whilst with Force H?

Gidday, I'm not sure yet but I'm hoping it will be a simple scheme. I have a photo in a book of ships of Force H, Sheffield, Ark Royal and Renown. HMS Sheffield is in the distance but she appears to have a uniform light grey upperworks and a uniform darker grey hull. I hope so anyway. She had a more complex camo scheme during her time in the Arctic I think.

 

9 hours ago, Ngantek said:

I'm always surprised how different Belfast and Edinbugh were from the others.

I think the main reason for that is because they were originally intended to carry sixteen 6-inch guns in four quad turrets. But a suitable quad (or four-gun) turret couldn't be developed so they were finally fitted with improved triple turrets instead.

 

Regards, Jeff.

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Gidday All, here's a quick update on HMS Sheffield. Not much to show, I've added another layer of 0.4mm styrene to the inside of the hull.

SHEFF70 second hull packing 1

       As you can see, these latest are wider and vertically orientated. I'm probably overdoing it but I think I'll add another horizontal layer of strips. I want to make sure I have plenty of hull wall thickness when I start to remove the bulges.

 

       Further to @Wez's question regarding her colour scheme while part of Force H, I did a bit of research yesterday and I'm pretty sure she wore a simple grey colour scheme. And another thing I didn't know, she was fitted with only her aft HADT (high angle director tower) initially. She didn't receive the two mounted on the forward superstructure until her refit following her departure from Force H. As far as I've been able to determine, HMS Sheffield joined Force H on 29th August 1940 and left it on 10th June 1941. She had a refit from 23rd June until 6th August 1941, during which the other two HADTs were added. She might have had her first disruptive (dazzle) camouflage scheme added then too. She spent a bit more time in the Mediterranean after this before serving in the Arctic, doing convoy escort duty, but she may have been with but not part of Force H.

       Before committing myself to this GB I'd planned on fitting the ship with her full compliment of directors and possibly(?) the disruptive camo scheme to display her as she was when she served in the Arctic. To be completely accurate to the GB I possibly shouldn't fit the two on the bridge structure and should paint her a simple grey. Maybe I can make the two directors detachable? Or that last stint of convoy duty in the Med could be my cop-out. I think she operated out of Gibraltar at that time too. What do the GB Hosts think?

 

Again, thank you all for your interest. Stay safe and keep on modeling. Regards, Jeff.

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5 hours ago, ArnoldAmbrose said:

Further to @Wez's question regarding her colour scheme while part of Force H, I did a bit of research yesterday and I'm pretty sure she wore a simple grey colour scheme. And another thing I didn't know, she was fitted with only her aft HADT (high angle director tower) initially. She didn't receive the two mounted on the forward superstructure until her refit following her departure from Force H. As far as I've been able to determine, HMS Sheffield joined Force H on 29th August 1940 and left it on 10th June 1941. She had a refit from 23rd June until 6th August 1941, during which the other two HADTs were added. She might have had her first disruptive (dazzle) camouflage scheme added then too. She spent a bit more time in the Mediterranean after this before serving in the Arctic, doing convoy escort duty, but she may have been with but not part of Force H.

 

That's a shame Jeff, I really like the RN disruptive camouflage.

 

Anyway, here's a bit of inspiration...

 

 

On 30/06/2023 at 22:18, Ngantek said:

Never one to make it easy on yourself are you Jeff?😄

 

Good luck with the conversion, I'm always surprised how different Belfast and Edinbugh were from the others.

 

Andy

 

Here's a video on the Town class as a whole...

 

 

For those interested in the design philosophy behind British cruisers, this will help...

 

 

 

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       Gidday @Wez, thanks for those video clips. I've been doing a little bit more research into HMS Sheffield's movements in late 1941, mainly September and October. As stated earlier HMS Sheffield was part of Force H based at Gibraltar, her Commanding Officer being Capt Charles Larcom. The ship departed 10th June 1941. Upon arriving in Britain she had a refit, from 23rd June until 6th August. During the refit (2nd August) Capt Larcom left the ship and Capt Arthur Clarke assumed command. The ship spent the next five weeks conducting exercises.

       On 12th September R-Adm Burrough raised his Flag aboard HMS Sheffield and the ship departed for Gibraltar, arriving on the 17th. R-Adm Burrough then left the ship.

              A summary of the ship's subsequent movements (source uboat.net) :-

20th September    Departs Gibraltar, heads west to act as cover for convoy WS 11X, Liverpool to Gibraltar.

0130/25th Sept     Passes Gibraltar heading east with part of convoy heading to Malta - Operation Halberd.

1327/27th Sept     Along with HMS Prince of Wales, shoots down Italian torpedo bomber (the torpedo hits HMS Nelson).

1433/27th Sept     Leaves convoy to attack Italian battleships.

1658/27th Sept     Reverses course to rejoin convoy.

1855/27th Sept     Enters Skerki Channel, part of Force X, remains with convoy.

1130/28th Sept     Arrives Malta to refuel.

1830/28th Sept     Departs Malta.

1800/30th Sept     Arrives Gibraltar.

1st October           Departs Gibraltar for patrol then to Clyde.

6th Oct                  Arrives Greenock

10th Oct                Departs Greenock for Scapa Flow

11th Oct                Arrives Scapa Flow

13th - 24th Oct     Exercises

November             Patrols to the north, and Iceland.

 

       The purpose of summarizing the above is this  -  As HMS Sheffield spent several days at Gibraltar before heading out to escort the convoy WS 11X, and arrived back there and stayed alongside overnight before departing for Britain can she be deemed to have operated out of Gibraltar for that period? If so then I can depict the ship as she appeared at that time, which will include the full set of directors and her first disruptive camo scheme.

       But I don't have to decide just yet.

 

       Gidday All and here's a little bit more of the model. I added a third layer of styrene inside the hull, which became thick enough to survive a direct hit by one of Bismarck's 38-cm shells. Well maybe not quite. I've since removed most of the bulges fitted to Belfast and this revealed a small issue. I used a fine chisel to remove the first of the styrene and at about a point under the forward turrets I broke through, finding that my layers of added styrene hadn't conformed to the hull as well as I thought they had. With hindsight maybe I should have used the more flexible 0.25mm thick styrene for a better fit and not 0.4mm, for the first layer anyway. There was a gap between the original hull plastic and my additional reinforcing. Oh well, out with the Tamiya filler.

      Below is a photo after the first cycle of styrene removal, filling and sanding.

SHEFF80 hull sand & fill 1

       I'll add some more filler shortly, and let it cure overnight. As HMS Sheffield had some armour on the hull amidships I'm wondering if I can leave a little of the bulges still in place as armour. That might avoid anymore break-throughs.

       Anyway that's it for now. Thank you for your interest. Stay safe and keep on modeling. Regards to all, Jeff.

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       Gidday All, I think I've almost finished the hull shaping of HMS Sheffield. I still have to extend the hull sides under foc'sle deck a bit further aft.

SHEFF90 hull bulges gone

       I've used two types of filler. I usually use the white Tamiya filler but my son loaned me his jar of Mr Surfacer, the darker grey filling on the hull. While I think it's good for thin depths of filling I think I prefer the Tamiya white for deeper filling. I think the method I used to alter the hull has been reasonably successful, particularly as a first attempt, although I've learned a little. If I was to do this again I think I'd use 0.25mm thick styrene as an inside packing instead of 0.4mm, and take greater care that it fitted the inside of the hull snuggly. Particularly for the first, and probably the second layers. Maybe the thicker stuff for subsequent layers. For those wishing to convert a Belfast hull into HMS Birmingham (a sister ship but without the hull chine/knuckle) I think this method is still possible but I'd suggest that the internal hull packing is extended up higher, up to the lip that the foc'sle deck will sit on. Then the knuckle can be shaved off along with the bulges.

       And speaking of decks, this class of ship had a longer forward superstructure and foc'sle deck than Belfast. In order to extend the superstructure aft I've cut it at the position of the catapult and removed the aircraft-handling tracks and the 20mm Oerlikon gun tubs. Then I stopped for a rethink. The quarterdeck has a lot of holes that will need filling, plus the removal of the guides for the first level of the aft superstructure. This will effectively destroy much of the scribed deck planking so I've decided to make my own quarterdeck from V-groove styrene sheet. As this is only 0.5mm thick I've reinforced it with a layer underneath of 0.75mm plain styrene sheet to make the overall thickness that of the original kit deck. But I'm not sure yet whether to do the same with the foc'sle deck. If I do I'll cut short that bonsai'd deck in the foreground and use the bit that carries the ground tackle. The main deck (inc quarterdeck) will go on first so I don't have to decide just yet regarding the foc'sle deck.

     I've also removed the chin plate at the forefoot. I've seen a photo of Sheffield with a paravane towing shoe around the bow which AFAIK doesn't require the chin plate. She may have had one fitted later, I'm not sure. But if she does require a chin plate I'll add a thin one as I did for HMS Jamaica, and not that great bulbous thing that Airfix molded to the forefoot of the Belfast kit.

       Anyway, this is as far as I've gone. Thank you all for your interest. Stay safe and keep on modeling. Regards, Jeff.

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       Gidday All, here's a quick update to show a very little progress on HMS Sheffield. I've been touching up the hull a little, working on the main deck and I've drilled the scuttles (port holes) in the hull. It seems that when built the ship had two rows of scuttles  from the machinery spaces to almost the bow, at 2- and 3-deck level. Abaft the machinery spaces another full row to the stern on 3-deck. It also appears that during the war many of these were plated over, and some even uncovered again post war. It's a bit confusing to me as to what was done when. Added to the issue is that I haven't decided exactly when to portray the ship. So I've gone with the full compliment of scuttles forward on 2-deck and aft on 3-deck and the reduced compliment (of four per side) under the foc'sle deck at 3-deck. I'll claim modeler's license if I've got it wrong. I've also extended the ship's side plating aft a little under the foc'sle deck, closer to midships.

SHEFF110 scuttles drilled

       To mark them I stuck masking tape down onto a hard surface (a steel ruler) and measuring from a selected datum point on a drawing, marked the positions of the scuttles onto the masking tape. Then I positioned the tape onto the ship's side and pin-pricked the positions onto the hull. Then after removing the tape I drilled with a 0.4mm drill in a pin-vice followed by a 0.6mm drill. My preference is not to drill all the way through.

       Anyway, this is as far as I've gone. I forgot to include the main deck I've made in the photo, maybe next time. So thank you for your interest. Stay safe and keep on modeling. Regards, Jeff.

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10 hours ago, Courageous said:

I had completely forgot about drilling out scuttles, not a job I'd like to think about in your scale or mine. Maybe I should be think about them on my Rodney...

Gidday Stuart, are the positions of the scuttles marked on your kit? The Airfix Nelson kit has them but they're raised. I didn't find the job all that tedious actually. Regards, Jeff.

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       Gidday All, now that USS Mullany is complete I should be getting stuck into HMS Sheffield, but this last week I've had a lack of mojo. Partly I think because this build is going to be more work than I originally thought, but that's usually the case with my conversions. I think a lot of the kit structures that I'd planned to use to save time aren't quite as suitable as I first thought. It might be easier to make new parts for the superstructures than to modify kit parts. If I don't I might have a ship that LOOKS like HMS Sheffield but won't BE HMS Sheffield. So this weekend gone I forced myself to get a move on.

       I've made the four barbettes for the turrets, and done a bit of work on the turrets themselves. I've also made the main deck and am currently working on the foc'sle deck.

SHEFF130 decks & turrets 1

       As stated in an earlier post the main deck (I think I called it the quarterdeck) is made from Evergreen V-groove. The foc'sle deck is currently from three parts. I utilized the extreme bow of the kit deck to make use of the ground tackle. The next section is V-groove to have the planking effect. And aft of this is plain styrene sheeting. This bit will be under the forward shelter deck (B turret gun deck) so no planking effect is required. The two holes in the decks are for the trunks of 'A' and 'Y' turrets.

       The turrets have been deepened by 0.25mm. Two ways of doing this, add the sheet to the top or underneath. As you can see I've chosen underneath so I didn't have issues with cutting out the gun slots or the slightly rounded top edges of the turrets. The only issue with doing it this way is that the forward 'chin' of the turret is now a bit thick but I think that's a very minor issue. And speaking of rounded edges, the top front edge of the turrets in the Southampton class were more rounded than in subsequent classes. I've rounded these edges a little although it's not very noticeable in the photos. I still have to fit the key to the turret trunk of each turret, and of course the guns themselves.

       But the next task is to do a bit more with the foc'sle deck, then look at 'B' and 'X' turret decks. And these won't do themselves so I'd better stop yakking and get on with it. So thanks for your interest. Say safe and keep on modeling. Regards to all, Jeff.

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My mind is always boggled at the amount of work that goes into your builds Jeff, not to mention the care and attention into details like the turret mods. Lots of great progress though. One (third of a) deck at a time I guess!

 

Andy

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5 hours ago, Courageous said:

Decks are looking good but I have to ask, how have you made them so well without a template...trial and error?

       Gidday Stuart, actually I do use a template - the kit decks. I usually have to fine-tune them a bit but the kit deck as a template gives me the basic shape. I've done the foc'sle deck now, too, as far as the catapult.

 

4 hours ago, Ngantek said:

details like the turret mods.

       Gidday Andy, a few of Airfix's turrets are too shallow I think. Nelson and Ajax definitely, but I hadn't realized that Belfast's were too when I did my initial OOB build many years ago. These turrets also have hatches on the turret faces, between the left and centre guns for sights I think, and also possibly three doors at the back. I'm not sure whether to do them or omit them - 0.25mm styrene might be too thick, 0.13mm styrene too thin to grab and do the job. If I do them badly it might detract from the model rather than enhance it. But I don't have to decide just yet. I've got a couple of spare turrets (hulls too, any body need a Belfast hull? 🙂) so I can try one out.

 

Thanks for your interest, and yeah, I think mojo's kicked back in. Regards, Jeff.

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       Gidday All, here's another update on HMS Sheffield. I've made the two hull decks (main deck and foc'sle deck) and the aft shelterdeck, which is really an extension of the foc'sle deck. The hull decks are dry-fitted for the photo. And yes, in case you were wondering, the bit of kit foc'sle deck I've used came from another (butchered/cannibalized) kit.

SHEFF180 aft deckhouse 3

       The aft shelterdeck is inverted for the photo, to show the extra internal bulkheads (walls) I've added. This is standard procedure for my scratch built superstructures now. There seems to be quite a bit of open space under the shelterdeck. I hope this is correct. All I have to go on is a copy of a card model of the ship and a photo of a resin kit I found, which seem to agree with each other. Line drawings and plans don't show what's beneath the shelterdeck. The torpedo tubes will be in this area and the 4-inch AA guns immediately above them.

       I've also included the Belfast kit decks in the photo. The aft superstructure decks of the Belfast kit would need to have a bit of work conform to those of Sheffield. And due to Airfix having their decks fit into the bulkheads instead of sitting on top of them I decided it would be easier to make my own.

       The hull at the stern is a bit wide but it should push in when I glue in the deck, but that'll be a little later.

So that's it for now. Thank you for your interest. Stay safe and keep on modeling. Regards to all, Jeff.

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Gidday All, and thanks James.

       I've been doing a little bit more on the decks, most recently 'B' turret deck. Like the aft shelterdeck ('X' turret deck) in the photo above it has internal bulkheads fitted.

SHEFF210 hull & turret decks 1

       The deck houses still need tidying and busying up. The forward 'B' turret deck also needs a rectangular section cut out of it at the rear, to accommodate the forward funnel. It also needs shortening slightly. I haven't decided yet whether to have both hangar doors closed or one of them open, like the Belfast kit.

       Glued to the top of the decks are guide pieces. These fit snuggly in between the internal bulkheads I mentioned, so the deck houses when finally fitted will go into their exact positions. The pencil marks you see will no longer be visible, being under paint.

 

And the decks, barbettes and turrets dry fitted:-

SHEFF220 decks dry fitted 2

       I'm going to see if I can use any of the kit bridge structure for this. If I can I'll have to lengthen it. I'll accept minor differences in the positioning of fittings if I can't alter them provided they're not too obviously wrong. I'll probably start looking into that tomorrow.

 

This is as far as I've gone. Thank you for your interest. Stay safe and regards to all, Jeff.

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