I-class destroyer HMS Imperial D09 1/350 - Made from Atlantic Models HMS Hesperus
Last year at Scale Model World at Telford I took one of Peter Hall's H-class destroyers off his hands for a project:
The kit is Atlantic Models ATK35058 HMS Hesperus, a Brazilian H with the later design of bridge.
Due to a family connection, I wish to build the I-class destroyer HMS Imperial, pennant number D09, which was built by Hawthorn Leslies in Tyneside in 1936. The I class was a continuation of the Brazilian H making Peter's kit a very good starting point, however there are some differences to be addressed. The easiest problem is that the I-class had 4 of the 4.7in QF Mk.IX single mounts. The Hesperus kit provides 3, lacking Y-turret. Peter kindly supplied my kit with a fourth mount knowing my plans for this kit.
Next up, the H-class funnels were unequal height but both had oval cross sections. On the I-class, the aft funnel was taller, approximately equal in height to the forward funnel. The forward funnel was circular in cross section. Armed with a set of plans (again, thank you Peter!) I set about extending the aft funnel and replacing the forward funnel.
This is the aft funnel from the H-class in situ:
I cut out a piece of modelling board the correct thickness to insert into the funnel, then chopped the aft funnel in two. Unfortunately the steam pipes had to go to enable shaping of the insert. The modelling board was glue in between the two resin parts:
The fit of the upper and lower parts of the hull is excellent. I will go as far as to say that Peter's resin kit fits together far better than any injection moulded ship kit from Trumpeter that I have assembled.
I have purchased some photographs of HMS Imperial for reference. Whilst well photographed before the war, I know of only a single image taken during the war.
I have ordered (for £21) a high resolution copy of this image from the Australian War Memorial:
I hope that in high resolution it can offer some clue as to how HMS Imperial was painted in the Mediterranean in 1941. If not, then she shall be painted in 507C in pre-war guise. There is a good reel of footage on Roland Smith's Royal Navy in Colour DVD taken from HMS Ivanhoe which appears to show some of the 3rd Flotilla in all-over Mediterranean Grey (507C) whilst others look to have Home Fleet Grey hulls with Mediterranean Grey upperworks. I cannot make out HMS Imperial's pennant anywhere on the footage, but all of the destroyers in the footage clearly show the 3 bands on the aft funnel to be in red. The neutrality stripes on B-turret are in the usual red, white and blue.
I have started work on the deck painting. Those who have been steering me on paint research have also been helping me more recently with deck coatings. What a minefield! The I-class were trialled with 3 comparable latex-based trowel-on deck coatings from 3 different manufacturers. Semtex Ltd was one supplier. The trouble is, that the three products were different colours, one described as "the colour of dry asphalt", one green and one brown. There may have been 9" high bands of contrasting colour around the base of superstructure items the troweled on stuff butted up against. So far, I cannot determine which manufacturer's product was which colour, nor even which groups of 3 I-class ships received the products from each of the 3 suppliers. Whilst I am keen on getting things right, I am also pragmatic and in the interests of actually building this model rather than pontificating until I depart this world, I had to make a decision. There is reasonable evidence to support the bridge and platforms being linoleum covered, which gives us some brown colour, so I chose a grey that looks like the roads around the North East of Scotland, on the rare occasions when they are dry. I have sprayed the main kit parts accordingly.
At this point, I realised that the little platform at the back is surplus to requirements, as Imperial carried two pentad 21in torpedo tube mounts. The H-class kit provides a single quintuple torpedo tube mount. I could scratchbuild them, but am exploring alternatives presently.
haven't really dived into this fully yet because I'm waiting for the AWM photograph to either provide wonderful insight into how Imperial was painted in the Med, or convince me that that knowledge is lost to time and that I need to content myself with Imperial in her pre-war paint.
However, this has arrived yesterday. I don't think I'm lacking any pieces now.
Today I popped out to our nearest model shop to pick up some detail parts. After the 30 second walk we entered and I left with some accessories to dress up the model some more.
I picked up these Infini Model 1/350 Watertight Doors (Royal Navy) which admittedly look like a real faff, but I've learned that they are infact very simple to assemble and I personally prefer to leave the door frame attached to the fret whilst I insert the door and fold over the latch things. There are 6 types of door, each in open (with relief detail on the inside) or closed positioning. It also includes some portholes and scuttles in two sizes.
I also swiped another Tetra Model Works /350 Vickers .50in Quad Machine Gun set. I used these and was very satisfied with them on my HMS Hood, and they're still the best .50 Vickers guns available in 1/350 so not to use them again on Imperial would seem a backwards step.
I added a few more bits of detailing today, but without really getting too involved and burning out as I am prone to. The ship now has a name!
The I-class had two Vickers 0.5in Quad machine gun mounts located on this platform between the funnels:
And here's the back end with both of the pentad 21in torpedo tube mounts sat in place:
This morning I got a few more bits done. This started with cleaning up some of the white metal parts. No photos to show, but then again my value-added is not much to look at. I then added the remaining watertight doors and got a ladder and the handrailings around the searchlight platform fitted. A couple of portholes on the "Brazilian H" bridge that aren't shown on my photographs of Imperial were filled too.
I'm thinking I could really do with starting the paintwork about now, but I have been trying to hold off as long as possible. I shall need to commit to that very soon though.
I had mentioned earlier that there was a family connection. This is my great uncle Alex Kelman. He was the brother of my grandmother on my father's side of the family. Alex died before I was born and all my grandparents are dead now also. However, it is understood that Alex retired as a Petty Officer and that he was aboard HMS Imperial at Crete.
The newspaper cutting is about a graver situation a couple of months later when his next ship was sunk by a U-Boat. HMS Stanley was a "Town class" lend-lease 4-stacker flush deck American destroyer similar to the famous USS Wickes and HMS Campbeltown - only Stanley was one of two of those in the Royal Navy converted as Long Range Destroyer Escorts which involved the removal of forward boilers, the loss of the forward two funnels, the deck house built up in their place and extra fuel carried where the boilers used to be. In addition, the bridge was reconstructed and raised. That will be a future project of mine using Atlantic Models' ATK35060 HMS Montgomery, but I need to perform the LRDE conversion myself. I don't have plans, only some photographs so it will involve some educated guesswork.
Here is a photograph of HMS Stanley which when compared to the unconverted Montgomery shows the most obvious differences.
I had to go on a trip to London last week so got nothing done. I have sketched out an I class in 1/350 scale though and transcribed what camouflage pattern can be seen from the image. Towards the stern is getting towards the interpretational but there's a reasonably clear view of the bow, bridge and funnels. The other side may or may not have been a mirror image of this. I doubt we'll ever know.
As to colours? Again it's anyone's guess at this point really. The relative tones of the photograph would appear to indicate a fairly high contrast two-tone scheme that might be consistent with some other schemes captured in colour that could have been 507A and 507C or could have been custom mix greys. Although now known to have some issues in some areas (e.g. 507B), Alan Raven's Warship Perspectives Volume 1 does contain numerous destroyers in similar two-tone schemes and he also believed them to be 507A and 507C, as well as stated that most of these destroyers had similar designs port and starboard.
HMS Revenge is clearly in two greys
At this point, I feel like I might be up for having a go at portraying HMS Imperial when great uncle Alex was definitely on board. My father was over here yesterday and when shown the photograph of Imperial on tow, he suddenly recalled Alex telling him of the time they struck a mine and the big crack that opened up from weatherdeck down to the waterline, and that the crack moved as the ship reacted to the sea and the general fear amongst the crew that she may break in two.
Colourcoats' adhesion to resin is generally pretty good. Nevertheless, I don't want any accidents. As I also wanted to add a plating seam it seemed sensible to give the whole hull a quick coat of Halfords primer. Then, a couple of strips of masking tape and another coat provided the seam.
Halfords primer is ok but a bit too rough for me so I flatted it back with an Infini sanding sponge. Doing this also highlights the seam just added, but it will be less conspicuous after paint.
I have since sprayed a base coat of Colourcoats NARN22 - 1936- Light Grey 507C / G45 - which I have access to early because I have the leftover paint matched to the target colour for manufacture