HMS Triumph

HMS Triumph 1903  Combrig 1:700 resin model by Pat Camp

 Figure 1. The completed kit! No, only joking. Incidentally, I think It has been printed mirror-imaged.  

Having enjoyed building Tamiya’s 1:700 scale kit of the USS Indianapolis heavy cruiser of WW2, I thought I would try my hand at a resin kit of a pre-Dreadnought battleship. The series of kits by the Russian company Combrig are well detailed, beautifully cast and good value for money. This one cost around £16. They can be obtained from White Ensign Models You get a small amount of photoetch with the kit, but I also obtained set PE 757 WEM 1/700 HMS Tiger to provide hand rails and other details: this cost £8.00.

The main source of reference is a wonderful book by R A Burt which is out of print now, and fetches high prices on the book market. Fortunately, the County Library at Gosport holds a copy of this, along with many other treasures, some of which can be obtained for loan. You will also find some good photos of the ship on Ariga’s website

Construction started by removing many of the detailed parts from a thin carrier film of resin. I first separated the parts with a knife and then rubbed the base on fine wet-and-dry (used wet) paper, checking to make sure a uniform amount is removed all round, until the film was removed.

Figure 2: kit
contents contained within handmade box. 
Figure 3. Main
source of reference 

Very delicate work! I then did some dry fitting and found that a hole in the deck for the forward funnel did not line up with the corresponding hole in the hull. To be honest, I had been warned about this by a ship modeller I was chatting to at one of the Yeovilton shows! Reference to the scale drawings in “Burt” showed the hull to have the fault, so the hole was filled with Milliput and, once cured, a new hole was drilled in using a pillar drill. Whilst I was at it, I also drilled holes beneath the turret positions for hidden screws to fix the ship to a base and a pair in the after deck house so I could have ladders going down from the deck above. I went slightly out of position with one of these and broke through the side wall: but the damage was minor and easily repaired using epoxy putty. The portholes were cleaned up using a drill held in a pin vice and a couple of photoetched doors added to the rear deckhouse. The four apertures for the 7.5″ guns were painted dark grey before they were covered by the deck, bonded into place using cyanoacrylate adhesive with gaps fore & aft filled with a little epoxy putty.

Figure 4. Holes drilled in aft deckhouse for ladder access. 

The first major bit of detailing work was the addition of shelves for the torpedo nets. These were added from thin plasticard.

 The next step was to add the net spars from brass rod. The position of each was marked onto the shelves by scaling from the plan in Burt. If you find (like I did) that there is too large a gap between the third and fourth spar, that may be because you didn’t account for the gap in the plan at the spine of the book! Don’t laugh, it’s embarrassing!  The spar lengths (17mm) were the same apart from the first two pairs (20 mm). The spars were attached using PVA glue, which allows time for repositioning. If you make a mistake, wait for the glue to set (a minute or two), remove the part, clean away the glue and try again. Follow up with thin cyano once everything is where it should be.

Figure 5.
Torpedo net shelves – I) hull shape marked onto thin plasticard 
 ii) card cut out wider 

The addition of walkways over the battery section amidships is as far as I’ve got right now. Adding railings to these has been one of the fiddliest things I’ve done and I am none too happy with the results. Just as well that I don’t have a “swear box” or I’d be skint by now. Especially when I dropped the model.

I’ve been getting into the detail of this little resin kit. There are some platforms and walkways that run at a low height over the battery section of the hull that are formed from four thin sections of resin. I decided to glue some styrene strip beneath the resin pieces to represent the gangway supports. I commenced by spacing these equally apart using the drawing from Burt’s book (see last month) as a guide. I then realized that all of the platforms had some zig-zag and so I changed my plan and placed a “support” at each change of these points and then filled the gaps between with equally spaced strip. The resin parts were placed upside down and over-length pieces of strip tacked in place with PVA glue.

Figure 6. Spars for the torpedo nets cut from brass wire. The stem of a drill in a pin vice was used as a cutting guide.  Figure 7. The kit lacks a bow crest. The size and shape was marked onto some Tamiya tape. Epoxy putty was rolled out and cut to size before attaching to the hull and sculpted to shape. 

Once these were positioned, they were fixed in place with thin cyano and trimmed flush to the edges of the platform. Photoetched railings were added next using material from WEM’s Tiger set. It was extremely difficult to bend the railings to match all the zig-zags and corners. If I were doing this again, I would draw an outline around each of the pieces (before gluing the supports on) and use this as a guide for bending the PE. I would assemble the platforms, etc to the ship and then add the PE railings. Remember when bending the railings to try and get a stanchion at each corner (almost impossible!). I also had a problem with the supports and platforms interfering with hatches on the deck and structures around the base of the funnels and found there was no clear information about where two of the platforms were to be positioned (these are platforms that go around the distinctive cranes. Holes had to be drilled in the resin for the cranes to pass through and the location marked by scaling from Burt’s drawing). Anyway, this stage of work is done now but I can’t say I found it a pleasure!

Figure 9. Detailed work taking place on the bridge and battery areas. Note Coca-Cola can put to good use! 

 The bridge deck on Triumph has a small house at each end. These are supplied as fold-up PE items by Combrig, but were way over size. So the parts were cut along the fold lines and the sides filed narrower. The resin railing/canvas screen was cut away to take the sides and these were tacked using PVA and then set with cyano. Small pieces of plasticard were glued in place for the roof and the edges were trimmed using cutters and filed to size after the glue had thoroughly set. Gaps between the bridge housings and railings were filled with plasticard strip and tidied using Mr Surfacer. Some of the canvas screened railing was damaged on my model (particularly after I dropped the model!) and replacement ones made from aluminium from a soft drinks can. The RN battleship looked like it was sponsored by Coca-Cola by the time I’d finished!

The ship was given an airbrushed coating of Alclad primer (bought from Robin at the course) and the wooden decks airbrushed Tamiya White followed by Desert Yellow. A light grey was used to highlight parts of the ship that catch the light and a dark grey applied to the shaded areas, such as beneath the torpedo net shelves, stern balcony and around the bow. My next step was to get other details, such as the turrets, funnels and air vents to the same stage before applying a top coat of Grey to complete the job.

The central part of the ship has a large number of ship’s boats on mounting chocks. The chocks come as tiny resin mouldings that need to be glued in place one by one. Positions for these were scaled off from Burt’s drawing and they were tacked in place with white PVA glue, followed up by thin cyanoacrylate once everything was correctly aligned. The normal recommendation is to glue the mountings to the underside of the boats first of all, but I wanted to use the mountings as a painting guide so I could paint in the shadows that the boats would cast onto the deck using a dark grey oil paint mix. One problem is that I forgot that I intended to have one of the boats (a very nice looking steam pinnace) on the sea display base and not on the ship, so now I’ll have an invisible boat casting a shadow on the ship’s deck! Another problem is that the boats in the kit are smaller than those scaled from the Burt drawing and the mountings will now look too far apart. Live and learn, as they say.

Fig 10 Foredeck of HMS Triumph. 

The ship’s funnels are nice castings that need to have a photo-etched (PE) grille attached to their tops. The flat PE grille needs to be dished upwards beforehand and that is a fairly tricky operation done by placing the part on a rubber pad and pressing down with a dome-ended tool. What often happens (and did this time with me), is the outside ring crumples here and there. You could trim the ring away afterwards for a neat job, but I thought this a bit risky so glued it on anyway. One of the things I should have done was to thin the wall around the top of the funnel before gluing the grille in place as it would look a little better.

The funnels have three circumferential weld seams that are missing on the castings. I used a loop of stretched Lycra thread to represent these with a coat of Johnson’s Klear to hold them in place. The funnels were then airbrushed grey and a sooty top sprayed with Tamiya Panzer Grey. They were then tacked in place with PVA and continuously moved, prodded, poked, checked against a set square, etc, until they looked to be vertical. Then I ran cyanoacrylate glue around the join to set them in position.

The various parts for the masts come as resin castings. The spars are too flimsy so I replaced these with brass rod, filing and sanding the ends to get the correct shape. This was all PVA/superglued in place and rigging added from heat stretched sprue. Now some kind soul had left a box of sprue behind from last months meeting so I had a chance to do some experimenting with this stuff. Some plastic pulled easily to form really fine monofilament, whereas others just didn’t want to know. The stretching of plastic sprue forms a corollary to “Sod’s Law”: the colours you want (black or very dark grey) don’t stretch very well. The brilliant colours (which are often useless because you then have to paint it) stretch, well, brilliantly!

To apply the rigging, the length was gauged using dividers and the stretched sprue cut to this size. A small dot of PVA glue was put on the deck or mast and the end of the sprue placed into this. The other end was teased to where it should go and then tacked in place with another application of PVA. Once all were set in position, I followed up with thin cyanoacrylate.

Ships railings were applied in a similar manner. Dividers were used to gauge the length needed (try to go for short stretches of railing rather than one long piece) and a slightly overlength piece cut from the PE fret. I have found the new (to me) Swann-Morton 15C blades to be a lot easier to get the small parts off the fret. You may now need to form the shape of the PE to match the model. If you have tight corners, try to have a stanchion at that point: this is where I often use separate pieces, with just one of them having the stanchion. If you need to form a curve, place the PE on a piece of rubber or foam and use a roller. Use a big roller and stiff rubber for shallow curves and small roller and deep, softer foam for tighter ones. Frequently check and adjust until the PE fits the model and then trim the end(s) to size. I used a #9 blade to do the cutting, having placed the PE on some glass to avoid it bending. I also found the #9 blade was good for folding the PE, being somewhat thinner than a safety blade it slides under the PE easier. Place two or three dots of PVA along the edge of the deck and position the railing in place, teasing it in place. Once done, run thin cyanoacrylate along the bottom edge of the rail. Many of you know that my preferred applicator for this is a cocktail stick with an end trimmed to the shape of a screwdriver blade. Dip this into a puddle of superglue and transfer it to the model: it works a lot better than any other applicator I’ve tried.

Before attaching the rails to the deck, I did paint the wooden areas with an oil paint mix of Naples Yellow + Rowney Raw Sienna + (touch of ) violet blue + Flake White + Liquin over the undercoat of Tamiya Desert Yellow. I have also painted the hull using a range of greys mixed from Ivory Black, Paynes Grey, Cadmium Orange and Flake White. Shadows cast from details have been lined in using a very dark shade. The model is not looking too bad now and completion is in sight.

I next started assembling and detailing by working outwards from the centre of the ship as this reduces the likelihood of damage to the detail from errant tools and fingers. The two funnels were given bracing wires from stretched sprue and then the fore and aft platforms were glued in place, incorporating steps folded up from PE. The real ship had railings covered in canvas “dodgers” and these are quite prominent in photos of the ship. I painted in light and shade to represent these (but not too successfully!) and gave them a slightly lighter shade than the hull colour.

The two masts were then added. As usual, parts were tacked in place with PVA and set with cyanoacrylate once in the correct position. Although I used a pillar drill to open up the holes in the deck for the masts to set into, the masts still went in slightly askew (as is the way of things!)

The various deck mounted guns were given a coat of darker oil paint over the lighter grey and this was carefully removed from upward facing surfaces using a dry brush. Once dried, these were given a dry brush with light grey to highlight the detail. The scalloped surfaces around the capstans were treated in a similar same way.

Fig 12, HMS Triumph. From Agria website.

I had forgotten about how torpedo nets were constructed so posted a question on the steelnavy website. They are constructed from hoops of steel and so it is reasonable to suppose these would be prone to rusting in salt water. Many thanks to Rob Kernaghan for his advice and close up photos of his models. His advice was to paint the nets a dark grey and then drybrush over with a lighter grey. I used fine braid for the rolled up nets and this came courtesy of Paul Adams from his model car ignition leads: thanks again, Paul! I started by giving the braid a tug to straighten it and then cutting it to the required lengths. I gave the two pieces a brush coat of Alclad primer so this very runny paint would penetrate into the braid. Once this had dried, I brushed on some Xtracrylix RAF Dark Grey (which happened to be close by for the Jaguar model I’m also working on). I gave the “nets” a light abrading with fine micromesh to expose the lighter grey of the primer on the highpoints but, in many places, unintentionally went through this to the steel below. The nets were tacked in place with PVA and then superglued. I mixed a rust coloured oil paint wash thinned with Humbrol enamel paint thinners and applied this over the nets and here and there on the hull. I didn’t think the wash was adding much colour when I applied it, but when it dried it came out a much stronger rust colour than I had intended, but I really do like the result! The Humbrol thinners seemed very good and I used it recently for a mix to do panel lines on the two jets and it worked well on those as well.

The interiors of the ship’s boats were given an undercoat of Tamiya Desert Yellow and a couple of top coats of burnt sienna oil paint to represent the mahogany finish. Paint was carefully removed from the high spots to highlight the thwarts (in case you don’t know, thwarts are crosspieces that spread the gunnels of a boat, so I hope that is crystal clear!) The steam pinnaces were also given some detail painting of the beautifully cast funnels, vents and lights using oils mixed with gold printer’s ink. Once the paint had dried thoroughly, the parts were removed from the casting blocks and placed on a sketch plan to make sure the boats were put in their correct location. The undersides needed cleaning up with a file before the hulls were painted the same grey as the ship and then glued into place on the model.

Fig 13. Progress being made with the addition of funnels and platforms.
Detail is being added generally from the centre of the model outwards. The
next step will be to add the masts and associated rigging, then the deck
mounted guns and ship’s boats. 

Like my two previous ship models (I’m still a novice at this lark!), the model will be placed on patterned glass which has been drilled beneath the turrets for mounting screws to go through. Beneath the glass is a piece of tinted Perspex (a “that will come in handy one day” piece which has been kicking around my garage for years) and then some coloured card. This time I’ve decided to model the ship at anchor with one of the ship’s boats being rowed to an accommodation ladder. It’s the way I also intend to display my model of HMS Warspite when I eventually get around to building it, so I thought I would do this as a trial run.

In retrospect, I really ought to be putting the models in a display case as they are likely to get damaged at shows as they are.

To summarise, this was my first pre-Dreadnought battleship model and my first ship kit in resin. Combrig make some sweet kits, beautifully mastered and cast. Add PE from White Ensign Models and you have three months of fun / education ahead of you (that is how long it took me, although I have been building other things as well) which is good value for money by my reckoning. This is the first time in a very long while since I used stretched sprue (for rigging) and, whilst it was easy to apply, I’m not sure how robust it is going to be.

2 Responses to HMS Triumph

  1. Superbe montage que j’ai pu admirer à l’exposition de Palavas le week-end dernier.
    Je voulais savoir si en angleterre, vous trouvez ce que vous voulez en maquette navale au 1/600? ou si vous préférez plutôt le 1/700.

    merci de votre réponse.


  2. Patrick CAMP says:

    Salut Christophe,
    Je construit les bateaux en échelle 1/700 et 1/350. Je prefère le échelle grand, mais il prend longtemps à faire.

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