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2 If by Sea

By Mike Taylor

Recently I was commissioned to build a diorama incorporating Revell’s HMS Ark Royal, Skywave’s Batch 42 Type 3, and Arii’s Trafalgar class SSN steaming into harms way. WEM’s photo etched sets were a must have!

Construction of the Ark Royal began by Marking and cutting the waterline then joining the hull halves and placing the deck. After consulting the photo etched sheet’s instructions, to note any assembly problems and finding there were none, the main superstructure was built. 

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These sub assemblies were then painted aircraft gray with medium gray decks and set aside to dry. Once dry they were given a coat of Future and all windows and vents were filled in with blue and black washes. A wash was also applied around surface details. After the wash had dried any extra wash was removed with a q-tip dampened with thinner. The superstructure was then cemented in place. (Photo 2)

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I found (much to my dismay) that the black stripe decal supplied with Revell’s kit was much too short. I masked and sprayed the black line and used spare white stripe decal from Accurate Miniature’s F3F kit to border it. All other decals were added at this time.

Most of the photo-etched parts supplied by WEM are used on the masts. These include Antennae spreaders, radar, and yardarms (photo 3).

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The yardarms really improve the look of the kit. Finely etched, they include yardarm supports that are bent downward to be placed for and aft of the yardarms themselves. These parts are easily as thin as attachments on other photo etched sets, bordering on (dare I speak it?)…being tiddly. Well, tiddly or not I went for this exercise in eyestrain and bent the supports (2 for each yardarm-16 total). The results are impressive. Being used to modeling US warships I painted everything black at first but fixed it after looking at photographs later. Finely etched railings were added around the superstructure decks (photo 4) and the Ark Royal was set aside while the Type 42 was underway.

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I have to say the British Type 42 batch 3 is a very sexy ship. It’s long bow and sleek superstructure make it look fast standing still. As always I began by assembling and painting the sub assemblies (photo 5).

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The same colors and techniques were used as were used on the Ark Royal with the exception that I tried to replicate the waffle pattern of the hull plates by spraying a lighter shade of gray through some mesh (from a Tamiya M-1 kit). It worked but the results are hardly noticeable in the photographs.

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Again after consulting the photo etched instructions to ensure there would be no assembly problems I began to work on detailing the superstructures. The masts were assembled and painted, all molded on yardarms were removed and they were cemented in place. 

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Photo 7 shows the photo etched yardarm supports quite well. WEM’s type 42 set includes parts for all 3 batches including arial spreaders, helo netting, rails, radars , air intake grills, flightdeck lighting gantry 20mm safety netting, and helo blades.

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Photo 9 & 10 show the superstructure railing and 20mm safety net.

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All armaments were added prior to adding the main deck railings.

While all this shipbuilding was going on I was also working on the base. The hull positions were marked by tracing them with an exacto knife onto masking tape that was applied to the base roughly where the ships would be. This was done early on prior to painting. The water was then created over the shapes and cut away, leaving a 1/16” space for the hulls to fit. The hulls were then set in place and wakes were created from celluclay and blended in to the surrounding water. At this time the safety nets were applied to the Ark Royal (some surgery was required as the set is designed for WEM’s resin kit of the Invincible (?) photo 11).

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The carrier was then set in place using white glue and allowed to dry pending the addition of aircraft and rigging. It was at this time that I noticed WEM’s exquisitely rendered 1022 radar scanners needed to be gray and they were carefully re-painted. The type 42 was placed the same way as the carrier and the Arii Trafalgar was painted using WEM’s HMS Trenchant painting guide as a pattern and placed-don’t forget to add the upper stern fin slightly behind!!

Whith the ships securely in place they were rigged and the aircraft were added. WEM’s photo etched details added amazingly to the finished product.

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My thanks to Caroline and the folks at White Ensign Models…Mike Taylor