By Graham Thompson
Why do we model what we do and should we stick to it or change?
OK, I know that many modellers do a wide variety of subjects with a core genre that they generally feel comfortable with. Also, it is sometimes the case that the genre is a period rather than a specific subject, in which case the modeller will do many varieties of subject related to that period.
However, although most modellers believe in the ‘never say never’ philosophy, I would have to say that maritime modelling is not the most prolific.
If you take the subject matter covered in the popular print modelling magazines, you will be hard pushed to find many, if any, maritime subjects covered on a regular basis. Add the fact that that the only magazines specialising in maritime subjects are radio control boats.
Thankfully, SMN Magazine is not your run of the mill magazine and does in fact support maritime modellers with a regular feast of warships to keep anyone happy.
I still believe however that if you took a poll of SMN readers that maritime subjects would still be the small minority.
So, why is this?
It certainly is not a lack of subject matter, nor is it a lack of kits.
I was amazed just how many kits are available, in differing scales, when I started looking into the subject.
For me the major problem with maritime modelling is the painting. With just about any armour subject, the painting, especially with an airbrush is relatively simple.
You pick the main colour, splash it on and the job’s done (I can sense the annoyance that remark may have had on armour modellers so I will apologise, it is a tad more involved than that).
More complex are aircraft, as you tend to have a demarcation between the upper and lower surfaces, but it is a relatively simple job of masking the dividing line after spraying one colour before spraying the next (I can sense the annoyance that remark may have had on aircraft modellers, so I will apologise again. Yep, it is a tad more involved than that too).
Ships are a lot more difficult to paint though as not only do they, generally, have two colours on the hull (as per aircraft), but the upper surfaces are different colours for the horizontal and vertical surfaces, which tend to meet at a sharp 90 degree angle to each other as in the deck and the superstructure.
Add to this the fact that superstructures are really odd shapes and that decks are stacked on different levels with really annoying hanging over bits; trust me, it just is not easy to achieve a great paint job.
Enter the Titanic.
I was bought a kit of the Revell Titanic by my lovely eldest daughter.
She took a long look at my display cabinets full of tanks, 1:48 aircraft and assorted AFV’s then asked if I thought the Stuka or the Hurricane was the better aircraft. I didn’t have a Stuka and, guessing she was fishing for ideas, I said the Stuka as I had a hurricane in the stash.
So she bought me the Titanic….
Not just the Titanic but the special edition set with a large one and a small one with pots of paint. I just love these, what I call ‘curve ball’ kits as it forces me to try something I never would have done.
So, I built the larger of the Titanic kits and here it is.
OK, it isn’t brilliant I know but you would be amazed how much I struggled trying to get the demarcation between the deck and the white walls. You don’t have to get too close to see how messy it is.
Time passed and I came across a ‘New release’ article in a magazine. It was for the Airfix ‘Sink the Bismarck set in 1:1200 scale.
I popped a question onto the SMN Facebook page to see if anyone had seen it and Geoff came straight back to say he had just received the kit and asked if I wanted to review it. Well, did I?
I didn’t know but I was drawn to this set for a reason I could not put my finger on. So I wrote a ‘Here Now’ review which you can read in the Magazine and I showed a couple of the builds on the Facebook page and, I have to admit, I was really happy building the Bismarck and the Ark Royal, even though the small scale introduced ‘challenges’ with the painting.
This was followed by some really supportive encouragement from Les Venus, who suggested a 1:350 scale modern Arleigh Burke Class US Navy Destroyer by Trumpeter as something that would enable me to have a ‘serious’ go at Maritime. This led me to re-read all the reviews and builds on SMN and I was getting hooked.
Shortly after, I met up with Les at the Brampton show where he passed on loads of encouragement as well as the USN Lassen kit.
While at the show I also bought a couple of 1:700 Kirov class Soviet ships for a bargain price. Fate had twisted the final knife and, despite the protestations, nay, almost threats from our Armour Editor, Bill Curtis (only joking Bill) I returned home determined to give maritime a real go.
Since then I have acquired a few more 1:700 kits and I will be looking at these in the next part of this article, with a view to showing the differences involved in Maritime using four very different kits all of which have been submitted as reviews. The first of which, 1:700 Trumpeter Kirov, has been published.
So here are the kits. Tune in next time as I work through how to build them, the differences between them and (hopefully) how I find a way to paint them.