Building the Italian Seaplane cruiser Ancona as in 1929 by Jim Baumann
The cruiser RN  Ancona    was originally laid down as the German High Sea fleet light cruiser  SMS Graudenz  and joined the German Navy in 1914. At  468 ft (142.7 metres ) and displacing 6382 tons,  her machinery produced  26,000  HP   which could  drive her at an impressive  top speed of 27.5 knots.

Armed with  7 x 15 cm SK L 45 guns as well as 4 x 50 cm   Torpedo tubes

After the end of WW1 she was ceded to Italy in 1920 and renamed ANCONA.

She remained in service until placed in reserve in 1932;  was stricken from the Navy list in 1937 and thereafter broken up  for scrap. Ancona--001jpg
She  was much modified and re-fitted  1921 to 1924. and was was recommissioned into the Italian Navy  on 6 May 1925.

In order to be able  carry a Macchi M7 Seaplane;  from 1928-29  the foredeck and bow were extensively re-modelled  to carry the bow catapult  track; to which end she gained the  rather graceful clipper bow which supported  the catapult.

Building  the Model of Ancona
Despite Ancona in Italian Service with her long overhanging clipper bow  being a unique looking ship,there appear not to be all that many photos of the ship.!

I spent many hours  enlarging and studying the few available images of the ship in both German and Italian service so as to be able to establish some of the detail and layout which I the correlated with thelarge scale  plans  drawn up by Franco Gay,    back in 1962. 

These  multiple sheets of  plans proved to be  beautiful artwork--and appear to be dimensionally  accurate albeit not perfect  in the minutia  of detail  when compared to the photos. Ancona--004
HP models manufactured  this  basic resin  kit  based on the Franco Gay plans,  as far as I could ascertain dimensionally  they did a fair job.

However...I  find it most peculiar   that they managed to  commit that most basic of errors  of furnishing the casting with a wooden deck, when commonly available photos of the ship in
both German and Italian service show her to have steel decks.... this was to prove to be the first of numerous challenges in building the model

I therefore-carefully -using a flat Stanley Blade and a Micro chisel --succeeded in paring away the wood deck  pattern on the casting and  obtain a flat smooth surface. 

This was a painstaking and slow  process requiring  firmness  of action as well  as delicacy so as not to cause irrecoverable damage

This meant that all cast-on deck detail--good as well as bad ( Aztec type steps) was  removed. all of which was later reproduced from scratch.

Eventually a satisfactory result was obtained  and the missing torpedo tube apertures cut in. Ancona--014
The extensive paring of the foredeck had impaired the height relationship versus  weather deck versus waterline versus the portholes,
therefore I needed  to add a styrene shim deck to restore   the correct relative levels.
The plans showed an odd indent  on the port bow, ancona--017
which photos of the real thing confirmed

I duly cut  in this  indent into my new flat fore-deck--still without knowing what it was for.!

Making the Funnels
The cast resin funnels in the kit were a rather poor  rendition of the real thing, having no cowl, nor showing the increased width at the base
I elected to make my own funnels using aluminium tubing and my miniature tube cutter.
To my eyes many fine 1/700 models are compromised by  vastly over-scale photo-etched funnel rails... ( often being thicker than the torso of a 1:700 scale crew-members and projecting off the funnel as scale 3 - 4 feet!!!

I had been experimenting  with using the tube cutter to cut a recess into which I could lay thin copper wire to simulate the railing
and after painting adding small pencil lines underneath the rail to imply the shadow of the railing-stand-offs

The round funnel  was straightforward, the oval  flat sided funnels presented other challenges.

I found the best approach was  using narrower copper tube for the two oval flat-sided funnels which gave the correct cross profile when squeezed in the vice with a wooden former inside to prevent crushing.

I first made  them  all round and then compressed  two of them in a small vice to gain the "flatness..."

The lower cowls were made of thicker wire-- I added another layer of wire balanced (!) and glued to the outside of the first layer--
as the lower sheathing of the funnels was greater  of circumference.
I used two layers of Becc vinyl tape to gain  the additional thickness... Ancona--023
Making the deck-houses usable
The deck superstructures in the kit   were  about the correct size and shape (off the Franco Gay plan) but the casting and exact outline detail shape shape and finish and level in many places was  poor an example being  the square windows in the  kit parts casting  not good enough... as they were not  even square to the deck... Ancona--024
Not wishing to completely re-make them all, I sheathed the superstructure parts in ( BEC's) vinyl tape to get a smooth demarcation line to deck and a better finish. This also cured  some of the soft and  sloppy detail on the casting The joins in the tape were hidden on the fore and aft sections ,where they are concealed by mast or overhanging deck section and sealed with a  dribble of CA to inhibit  any future shrinkage

The deck houses in photos appeared to have a  'beading' around them at the  join of deck to vertical bulkhead
I replicated this  laboriously using copper wire

The Bridge structure
This was a rather daunting part of the build--as it is in effect the ' face ' of the ship.The kitsupplied resin casting of the bridge with the multiple windows was shockingly bad; roughly executed and poorly cast. and was quite unusable, in particular the  windows require   regularity and a crisp finish

I experimented by piling up ladder stock on styrene strips  to improve the look, but while the effect was better--the window  rectangles were  not in proportion and the result not sharp enough I contemplated making custom- window decals--which would have been regular and sharp enough--albeit lacking the  see through-look.

Having built  models of  the pre WW1 Russian cruiser sister-ships Novik and Zhemchug .... I had purchased quite a few additional frets of the North Star PE (so to gain the  PE gunshields (!))

I thereby had some spare  pilot house photo-etch windows, which had the correct proportions to be usable in this project. With some careful cut-and-shut and some precarious brass  edge to edge glueing a fairly sharp and acceptable result with the correct amount of windows resulted.

The bridge level castings were crude and chunky and incorrect in plan view as well as side elevation.

The rear of the pilot-house was very " soft " in outline--as well as being under-size

I chose to remedy this using  use brass strip for thin walls as well as sharpness of outline.

Works on deck
Into  the previously cut in  Torpedo tube apertures I fitted the semi-circular  running track to the deck. I made the  track of very thin copper-wire flattened between two Stanley blades in a vice and then made the tubes utilising some old plastic  TT-tubes as a basis. Ancona--031
The aft  skylights and vent boxes were cast solid ( and crooked! ) and were  devoid of any detail...

I simulated the outlines of the apertures using some ladder stock from GMM and made the hatches using a slightly smaller ladder stock from WEM.

Munitions boxes and small deck vents  and similar box structures were all cut from styrene strip material. The ships boats supporting frames  posed a small quandary as they needed to be sharp, fine and most of all repeatable. The boat  skids were made of 1/350 handrail adapted and cut with the sharp corners being clipped -so that when painted it gives an impression of the out-board corner having a small round on it.. Ancona--034
The  overhanging decks aft of the bridge were made of paper- easy to cut and shape--and once tacked in place with matt varnish these were infused with CA --which made them hard and bonded along all edges as well supplanting the grab that the varnish had Ancona--038
On the foredeck, the anchor chain-ways and catapult track base were made of strips of brass. The catapult rails were made of WEM 1/700 KGV degaussing cable PE--which gave  a fair impression of the rails and their supporting  gussets. Ancona--040
The previously  removed resin  breakwater was re-made in brass. Ancona--41
The gun turret mounting  reinforced  plates which had all been chiselled off when I converted the decks to steel were made of vinyl tape squares with the corners clipped. Ancona--042
At the stern  there is a tall central fair-lead with the sides of the aft deck being cut away downwards; this was tricky to read off the drawings  but can be readily discerned  in photos. Ancona--043
Much time was spent making the fair-leads and mooring bits -- on models these are often represented  grossly over-scale.

I used some 1/350 ladderstock-- once painted ( brush) they assume quite a 3-D look

The kit  supplied gun-turrets had almost the correct size footprint in plan view -but were the incorrect  shape  in side  and frontal elevation being proportionately not quiet high not high enough , coupled with fragile  and clunky resin barrels;lastly being entirely solid was far from satisfactory I choose to treat  the solid resin block as blanks of a  a consistent size

I re-shaped the top and forward faces with a blade, and then carefully drilled and hollowed out the solid  from the rear of the turret I drilled the hole for  the barrel and inserted some NNT brass barrels and added a small amount of  vague detail to the breech end to give some contrast--but is all but invisible on  the model.

Making masts and platforms
The masts on ANCONA are outrageously tall, which  makes for a visually arresting looking model... The lofty thin poles masts were made using Albion alloys thin brass tubing I insert   stainless steel-spring wire into the tubing and drizzled runny CA in to make a sort of laminated  strong, bend resistant mast, so as to ensure no issues  at the  later rigging stages and avoid converging-mast-creep Later in her career Ancona had the open railing upper bridge platform replaced with a (seemingly )circular structure. Ancona--051
I used a similar  diameter  to the mast sacrificial mast tube to align all angles prior to installing the finished masts. Ancona--052
The upper look-out posts were made of brass tubing-- the viewing slits were made using cut down  black decal stripe. Ancona--053
In my opinion....(!) many a fine model has been compromised and flawed by having excessively thick  ( plastic or resin ) platform floors...In reality these were often simply sheet steel--usually braced underneath 
In 1:scale these are very very thin.... My method which I have successfully used for many years is to bend and create  the desired platform shape in PE railing,  then brush thinned-with-water white glue across the completed circle or oval across the UNDERSIDE.
Once dry--affix the platform to the mast and paint the floor -if a different colour to the railing from UNDERNEATH; -the white glue when dry is clear and  that gives a clean demarcation between the deck and railing. Ancona--055
In this instance I painted the railing and the floor the same shade of colour--as the canvas dodgers are the same colour as the metal railing and teh rest of the superstructure the next step will show the reason for  painting the rail the darker  colour of the floor...I then applied the white glue to the railing  with a paintbrush--relying on the surface tension to span the gaps, and when dry painted the " canvas" on the OUTSIDE only--white glue dries clear  and allows the darker railing  to be seen  with clean demarcation on the inside. This then  is intended to simulate the shadow cast by the railing--gives a bit of visual texture and sort of scale shadow... Ancona--059
The various platforms   all had extensive strutting support underneath. Rather than try and emulate this in an over-scale manner, I chose to simplify and added stretched sprue struts to give an effect  that is pleasing to the eye. Ancona--060
The ships boats were  fitted to the boat-racks, chocks simulated with a dab of white glue. The boats in the kit were very  poor so I substituted with suitable boats from  WEM, Combrig and even some old Modelkrak I added oars, rubbing strakes and rudders all made of brown stretched sprue

The davit rope  falls  for the boats  I made   using black stretched sprue, making the blocks  of a small pinpoint of white glue. The davits themselves were made of thicker flat brass strip--with stretched sprue added to the inside to give the paint something to adhere to to bulk up the strips.

Various figures--GMM and Eduard--were  twisted and re-posed, thickened with CA and white glue , and posted around their duty stations, or  in small congregations engaged in conversation or receiving orders!  The rigging of the ship was done entirely in stretched sprue  using my usual method which van be studied in greater detail here.

Rigging was a delicate and arduous affair, requiring total concentration and much held breath' as the 4 legs of each  of the diagonal cross-trees were made of very very thin stainless steel wire and were  butt glued individually to the underside of the look-out positions to the centreline of the masts rather than incorrectly  crossing over ahead or behind the masts

Each set  of  crosstrees,  per mast ,  required  8 x sets of signal halyards--each halyard consisting of two very fine pieces of tan coloured stretched sprue.  making 16 strands of spreu in all; and   endeavouring to avoid bending the very thin cross-trees.  The sprue supporting rigging proved to be structural! 

Final  finishing   encompassed   adding the awning stanchions at the deck-edges--these were made by cutting the  appropriate size lengths from the longitudinal pieces of 1/350 fine handrailing PE and later rigged with stretched sprue  Ancona--065
I had mounted the ship early on in the build for eays handling and used my tried and trusted method of using artists textured watercolour paper over wooden  cocktail sticks,
glued onto a stainless steel plate and bonded with epoxy .My method of making and painting  sea-scape   can be read in greater detail here and here.

lastly I painted and refined  the sea-scape  , using a very handy overhead photo of the real ship at speed and tried to emulate the same feel

The final task was to fit  the ship with her  naval ensign, this was drawn up and scaled  for me  fellow modeller Rui Matos, after receiving the pdf file I  I printed this on  white decal paper and attached to the sprue halyard with matt varnish Ancona--067
In summary,  I would have been rather unlikely to build a model of Graudenz in her original configuration  as a  smart but to my eyes unspectacular cruiser. It took the   Italian  Navy  to retrofit a  clipper bow to pique my interest sufficiently  for me to simply have to build and possess a model of the ship HP models  are to be commended for choosing to produce such an esoteric and unique subject
that appears to be dimensionally correct in  overall sizes and proportions

On the other hand, insufficiently tenacious  research  resulted in the release of the model  with a wholly incorrect wooden deck, along with mostly virtually unusable parts aside from the  basic hull.

Nevertheless Ancona makes an exciting addition to the modelships in my collection

I  am grateful to my Italian internet modelchums  Peppe and Giampiero in particular who were able to furnish some very useful images which allowed me to build  a reasonably accurate model but most thanks go to Rob Kernagahn who supplied the beautiful plans 

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More of Jim Baumann 's work.
Updated 11/25/2015