Building half (?!) of HMS Scylla in 1/700 by Jim Baumann

HMS Scylla was a member of the Dido-class cruisers .She was built at Greenock Scotland. Laid down in April 1939, launched on July 1940 and commissioned in June 1942

HMS Scylla and HMS Charybdis were completed with four twin 4.5 in mountings due to a shortage of 5.25 in mountings. HMS Scylla and her sister soon became known as the 'toothless terrors', but were very effective AA ships, and were designated as ‘AA cruisers’

HMS Scylla initially served on the infamous Arctic convoy duties and upon her return from PQ18 to Scapa-Flow the ships company was addressed by Winston Churchill standing upon Y-turret. She sailed for Gibraltar in October 1942 and partook in Operation Torch. In December of that year she patrolled the Bay of Biscay in order to intercept Axis Blockade runners.

On 1 January 1943 she caught the German ship Rhakotis   200 miles NW of Cape Finisterre.  After HMS Scylla opened fire the Germans scuttled the ship.

February 1943 saw her return to Arctic Convoys,; June back to the Bay of Biscay hunting U-boats.
In September of that year she lent support the Salerno landings (Operation Avalanche) and returned to the UK in October for a re-fit in readiness for new role as a Escort Carrier Flagship .HMS Scylla was Flagship of the Eastern Task Force at the Normandy Landings in early June 1944. She was the command ship for MTB’s that were operating every night against the E-boats that were based at Brest and Lorient. 

Her active career was ended on 23 June 1944, heading out again at dusk she had her back broken by a mine. Whilst remaining afloat and towable she was subsequently declared beyond economic repair.
She was used for target ship trials from 1948-1950 and from May of that year was broken up in Barrow-in-Furness.

She was considered a lucky ship; in her 34 months of very active service where she took part in virtually every aspect of naval warfare she suffered a single casualty; who was lost overboard.
Displacement 6,850 tons
Length 512 ft
Beam 50.5 ft
Draught 14 ft
62,000 shp via 4 screws = 32.25 knots
Crew 480 officers and men

Building the model

This model was intended as my contribution to a themed Cruiser display at the annual Telford show  (UK)
Despite WW2 being a little late for my sphere of interest I have always been attracted to the bright blue Camouflage scheme on the box-lid of the WSW 1/700 resin kit, which had resided in my stash for around 5 years…. Unfortunately the blue proved erroneous!
I had hoped for a short sharp build, but as ever this model was  destined to be  full of trials and some tribulations!

Part of the fundamental problem was that it would appear that WSW mastered the kit based exclusively on the Profile Morskie plans, which upon further examination of high resolution photos and other drawings were rather flawed…!
Some of the issues being incorrect that I cured were wrong porthole placement, solid bridge top, incorrect splintershield heights, shapes and disposition, removal of breakwaters that were not present on the real ship, deckshapes and surface being incorrect, funnel tops wrong, missing aft blast shield as well as many other tiny problems.

But perhaps the most obvious and serious mistake was my own fault! Having checked numerous internet sources as well as books such as ‘ Cruisers in Camera’ I chose to believe the often cited port-side camouflage attributed to Scylla to be correct - the same pattern that was shown and captioned in photos in the Profile Morskie… but as I found out a long way into the build is actually that of her near sister HMS Charybidis. Fortunately I had to hand a high quality starboard side view, which showed the subtleties of the scheme very well!
I was too far along with the build to contemplate stripping paint and detail and as all my 1/700 models reside in wall-mounted display cases- starboard side showing - I decided to live with the flaw and learn from my misadventure! 

It must be noted that there are subtle variations and shape changes to the camouflage to be ascertained in photos of the ship throughout her career.

After initial cleanup of the hull casting, I pared down some wood decks that needed to be steel, sharpened up the distinctive knuckle in the bow and set to finding some PE that would have the exact vertical spacings for inserting into the open gallery on the lower bridge level. After a lengthy search I happened upon a packet of various sized generic ModelRailway PE ladder – it always pays to look outside the immediate confines of the ship-modelworld…!

Most of the splintershields were removed and replaced with slightly taller brass items being made of the waste surround from PE frets

The top of the Bridge, inexplicably, was cast partially solid.
I ground this out using a motor tool, lined the sides with paper and levelled the floor with white glue
The funnels lacked the distinctive slightly ribbed plating effect-this was imparted by gently paring with a knife blade in vertical strokes. In addition the funnel tops were devoid of the overhanging lip.
The top of the funnel was cut level, the lip made using paper and affixed to funnel top. The paper plate was then infused with CA glue; the cap rim cemented back in place and the cap to plate gap was back-filled with white-glue 

The remainder of the build was relatively straightforward, with the usual torture of installing stairways, adding handrails along the superstructure, making PE cable reels, and then simulating canvas covers (fwd only) aft they were exposed to the elements.

The searchlight platforms had PE supports made and added.

The searchlights had additional protection added in the forms of canvas screens; cutting small suitably sized superfine PE handrails and forming octagons simulated these. Once installed these were backfilled with white glue to give a fair impression of the canvas screens.
Whilst adding details—but in particular whilst constructing the masts I found it helpful to have the model held in a powerful spring loaded clamp via two self tapping screws (some of the same  screws that will later be used for screwing the model to its baseplate)

This allowed me to hold the ship at various angles; prop it up on bow or stern pending what I was attempting to affix….

The tripod masts had large gussets joining the cross braces. Masts themselves were made of steel wire, with fine brass braces. The gussets were tiny paper triangles soaked in CA.
At this stage the model became almost fun-the adding of small details, gleaning ever more details from the photographs I had. I added numerous tiny mushroom vents, round and square. Individually they are virtually invisible-collectively they a to the ‘busy’ appearance of the ship. A feature on all the photos of the ship were the rolled up floater nets fastened to high points of the ship. There are a few clear photos in Ravens British Cruisers WW2 and Ensign 2 publication which illustrates well the appearance close up.
I tried a variety of methods to simulate these; in essence they look like a rolled blanket with uneven sticks attached! Eventually I chose to make them from 1/600 GMM Liner 5-bar rails, rolled, lightly dished in the middle and filled with white glue, painted black and lightly dry brushed.
HMS Scylla had a very distinctive crane jib-which was also quite short. The supplied kit part was not only a caricature of the real thing it was also a very crude casting, and simply would not do! After much study of various photos of which all only showed a part of the crane (!) I managed to make a satisfactory semblance of the crane which took an incredible 5 hours to make, mainly due to the crane-jibs numerous small surface area butt-glue joins failing repeatedly every time I touched it!  A number of very small pieces of PE, some stretched sprue, paper and small pieces of brass offcuts were used.
The Pom -Poms were made using the excellent WEM items; however I added  styrene strips to the underside of the ammunition trays and  the barrels had the ends thickened with white glue along with additional struts and pipework to give the impression of the real thing.
The ships bollards and fairleads were all replaced with scratch built items, being truer to scale than the vast cast on efforts. I made the fairleads from thin wire bent to shape, glued in place and then backfilled with white glue to simulate the casting where it attaches to the ship.

Ammunition ready-use lockers were installed where I could be sure they were, paravanes were scratch built with paper fins, the open bridge was furnished with a binnacle, voice-pipes and officers in beige duffle-coats as well as a windscreen frame. The wind baffleplates surrounding the bridge were simulated using paint effect. Ships boats were replaced and modified using WEM items from my ‘stock’. The curved top splinter shields midships were cut out of paper doubled-symmetrical shapes for each side!

Ships railings were GMM Gold plus superfine, cut and shut to suit so as to get stanchions on corners. The Ensign was a Dunagain decal- now sadly unobtainable; crumpled in a sandwich of tissue paper to prevent splitting. Carley floats were a mixture from the spares box - the kit-supplied items whilst attractive were dimensionally far too large when compared to photos.

The ‘snakes nest’ of steam pipes leading from the fwd funnel downwards were made of cored solder; which made it easier to create the bends. The turrets were lowered significantly and had their back edges thinned down by paring with a blade, barrels were replaced with suitably sized IJN items from my spares box. A mixture of GMM and Eduard PE figures fattened a little with white glue completed basic construction.

The model was set in a sea base of artists watercolour paper glued over cocktail sticks to simulate the swell and the wave form of the ship moving at speed. Painting was done wet-on-wet to give a blended look with tonal depth.
A step-by-step description of my method can be found here at here and here

Once the water was completed I rigged the model using stretched sprue in tan for the signal halyards and black for standing rigging.

Aside from the major mistake I made in not checking my references sufficiently - and thereby finishing up with a ‘starboard-view-only’ HMS Scylla model, I eventually did enjoy the build, even allowing for the basic weaknesses of the kit.

The portside view of a faux HMS Charybdis is marred by the different placement between the two ships of the radar lantern and other smaller equipment….

Unfortunately, after (!) I completed the model I was sent yet another photo that showed a minor error in my shaping of the aft AA positions; if anyone else is intending to build the WSW kit of HMS Scylla I would be willing to share my findings and some of the photos that I have purchased.

My sincere thanks go to David Griffith, who kindly performed for me  a thorough high res photo survey of the large scale model which is exhibited  in the Glasgow Museum of Transport 
  • Alan Raven and John Roberts British Cruisers of WW2
  • A Raven and H T  LENT Ensign 2    Dido class cruisers
  • Profile Morskie 12 HMS Scylla ( use with caution!)
Various Internet sources and photos from private collections from my e-modelfriends around the world
 More of Jim Baumann's work.