|During the 1890 designers of the major
naval powers began constructing a new type of cruiser , conceived to have
superior speed to outrun more heavily armed opponents whilst possessing
sufficient hitting power to match any faster enemy units. Improved steel
processing, more efficient and effective guns permitted the construction
of the armored cruiser.
This trend was also taken up by the designers of the Austro-Hungarian Navy who were planning units of this type after the projected war scenarios appeared to be changing. Austro-Hungary held no animosity towards its later arch enemy Italy, however felt threatened by the naval ambitions of France in the Mediterranean sea.
In the mid 1890's the Austro-Hungarian cruiser construction program was expanded to include unprotected cruisers such as the Zenta class as well as the Kaiser Karl IV and Sank Georg armored cruisers.
Sankt Georg was launched in December 1903, and her vital statistics
Completed in July 1905 she undertook various peacetime duties prior to being dispatched in 1907 together with SMS Aspern to the USA to represent Austria in the 300 year centenary celebrations at Jamestown, where she was much admired by other naval visitors. During World War one she participated in various coastal bombardment and offensive escort duties. In 1918 whilst anchored in the bay of Sebenico she was involved in the sailor led Mutinies. She was ceded to Great Britain as war reparations but was finally scrapped in Naples Italy.
|Building the model:
The 1/700 resin kit of Sankt Georg is one of the more recent and finer efforts from WSW of Germany. Sankt Georg was released in 2002 and the advances in technology, crispness of mastering and sheer build ability over the previous KuK model Ferdinand Max are obvious immediately upon opening the box. A small PE fret is also welcome for some of the fine details. The main Hull casting is beautiful, however my example suffered from numerous pinholes around the waterline and armored belt area.
I chose to replace the funnels with brass tubing and copper wire handrails, although the kit supplied items were pretty good I nevertheless wanted hollow funnels and a sharper overall look. The cast funnel caps were cut off and re-used as they were a nice shape
|The Bridge pilothouse was simplified the structure was solid and the windows were represented as raised rectangular shapes, all this was all cut away and a new pilothouse built using PE ladder stock of the appropriate size with paper walls. The installation of the numerous supports was simplified by the holes being drilled at this stage to ensure concentricity.|
|The splinter shields of the bridge levels whilst commendably thin lacked the cut-outs for the gun sweep arcs. The resin proved to be too fragile to to be cut neatly so I removed them fully and fashioned replacements of CA infused paper. The upper bridge levels had the solid 'railing with canvas' resin shields removed and the platform decks thinned down.|
|The complex arrangement of boat skids over the main deck around the funnels was helpfully supplied as a piece of stainless steel photo etch, the placement of which was assisted by the brass pins inserted into the casting by WSW, unfortunately these pins were a little thick for my liking.... so I proceeded by removing the outer visible ones by snipping of at deck level with very fine side cutters. These were then replaced and the remaining missing supports were added according to photos using fine nickel silver wire.|
|The aft portholes on the hull were on the real ship contained within a square opening scuttle lid , these were represented by cutting some appropriate size ladder stock into squares and fixing with matte varnish.|
|Most of the skylight hatch lids had on the real ship had circular window apertures within them, I made a representation of these by cutting up some 1/400 Photo etch (L'arsenal) accommodation ladder pierced grating into appropriate sizes and affixing to the plain hatch shapes all around the ship with varnish.|
|A distinctive feature of the pre WW1 appearance of Sankt
Georg were the copious sun awnings she carried, these were in place even
with the ship under way at high speed. I have surmised that inner panels
between the funnels must have been a challenge to install and remove as
they appear in absolutely all peacetime photos of the ship ! To represent
these I made a thin wire frame with Stretched sprue supports to limit the
size of each panel that I wished to span to within the feasible limits
of the surface tension that a thinned white glue meniscus can maintain.
Once painted it is most effective!
|The ships boats were well cast and matched the photos and drawings, but the steam pinnace whilst correct in outline lacked any surface detail. I was fortunate in having a good overhead detail photo; the hatches, doors and erect foldable canvas awning were all made of paper and glued on with CA.|
|The distinctive gooseneck boat cranes were nicely rendered, but were a trifle too short in the jib extension, this was added using styrene and then filed to shape.|
|The upper bridge platform had the rails fitted with dodgers,
these usually were of green painted canvas to match the remainder of the
ship, however I elected to model the ship sporting her cream canvas dodgers
as seen in the photo of the ship at a festive occasions such as the Emperor's
Birthday fleet review of 18 August 1908. The dodgers were made using my
usual method of first fitting the railing, painting them in the hull/superstructure
color prior to infilling the gaps in the railing with white glue. The glue
dries clear and when painted in a contrasting color from outside gives
a crisp looking result.
The masts were also fitted at this stage; the tapered stainless steel welding rod masts made for me by Steve Foulkes were ideal for the tall tapered pole masts the ship carried. I drilled the kit supplied lower platform and mast base all the way through the hull as well so as to allow the mast to be absolutely rigid. The semi-circular platform was cast onto a wafer of resin, attempts to sand it clear of the wafer resulted in the inevitable collapse of the side wall. I therefore made a new platform floor of paper ( cut out folded to ensure absolute symmetry!) around which I wrapped a strip of paper to form the splinter shield wall.
|All the small guns were refined with some deft blade work and had the over scale cast barrels replaced with brass rod. As I was portraying the vessel pre 1915( she was fitted then with an HA anti Balloon gun) I made a new Skoda curved shield gun for the aft platform using an old cast cowl vent for the shield.|
|The upper sides of the hull were fitted with a chest height handrail , this I made by cutting up GMM Goldplus 3 bar rail and fixing the 'spigots' with varnish.|
|All companionway deck hatches were drilled out and GMM stairs installed into them, I painted these apertures black and dry brushed the treads. Over the top of which I then fitted the awning frames, made of 1/350 2 bar railing bent to shape. All the other stairs used were from WEM. The distinctive life belts carried were from the eternally useful WEM Askold PE fret as were the light gun shields for the 37 mm guns in the lower platform.|
|The large admirals stern walk was made using sanded down kit parts, I initially used the kit supplied PE for the diamond pattern rail, but managed to clog it with glue, upon removal I snapped it. I rescued the situation by using WEM item from the WW1 BB/ Iron Duke fret another useful source of small parts! The supports and struts were made of stretched sprue, the reinforcing gussets being made simply by using a buildup of paint!|
|There were four platforms on the diagonal faces of the
superstructure faces fwd and aft, these were cast with solid splinter shields
examination of photos show these to have been open railing and were cut
off and replaced with paper and GMM railing versions. I have not as yet
fathomed what the purpose of these platforms could have been; I have not
as yet seen a photo with either personnel or a ladder present thereupon!
The remainder of the build was very straightforward with continuous perusal of photos with a magnifying glass being essential! Boats oars were made of brown stretched sprue, with the ends flattened in pliers to make the blade. I used the kit supplied PE davit's which gave absolute consistency in shape . The suspended boats were attached to the davits by using a piece of handrail glued to the base of the boat and then attached to the davits while supporting the boat from underneath to ensure the CA mad a strong bond. This meant that the boats could be suspended some distance away from the davit top.
The ship is extensively crewed with GMM PE figures which give the model a sense of scale and purpose.
Rigging is stretched sprue throughout, I again used light brown sprue for the signal halyards for a lighter look and the usual black for standing rigging. The lower yards had foot ropes and were replicated with the use of sprue, slowly and methodically. The weather deck awning stanchions are 1/350 handrail longitudinals ,thereby giving a perfect uniformity of size.
The ship is painted all over in 'Montecucollin' green, the nearest match as researched by Falk Pletcher in PSM mag 1997/2 being Humbrol 31, with the lino decks getting the WEM colourcoats Corticene treatment washed down somewhat. The pink boot top is as per the original, the lurid hue being a result of the saltwater reacting with the boot top paint. This was changed (!) at the outbreak of WW1 to dark grey whilst the remainder of the vessel was then re-painted in a light blue-grey.
|It is noteworthy that the forward and after decks were covered in an asbestos cement which had a light gray color with only the chain handling area on the fore deck having planking, this alas was not represented on the casting- impossible to retro-scribe, so a paint effect had to suffice here; once covered with chains, hatches and capstans it blended in well.|
|The numerous scuttle portholes had 'eyebrows' penciled in to represent the shadow thrown by the item on the real ship. The tall gaff with the WT equipment was a particular challenge..!! The lightly tapered look-out platform on the fwd mast was made of paper.|
The Ensign was an HP-Models item adapted by re-painting the red raggedly printed edges with watercolors prior to extensively folding it and painting shaded sections into it.
The water is artists watercolor paper, infused with CA to make it rigid and impermeable to moisture molded over cocktail sticks to represent a slight swell. The bow wave and a couple of wispy wave tops were made of torn tissue paper sealed with CA
The WSW SMS Sankt Georg was a satisfying and straightforward build.
The kit however does bear careful research, as various small details were
altered from year to year as well refining some of the smaller parts as
some of the detail is either clunky or speculative!
|Numerous online pictures were used along the following