From 2000 to 2003 I have been trying to construct an 1:600 scale Airfix model of the HMS Warspite, a favourite warship of mine. These pictures show you the result. Comprehensive upgrading is essential to achieve a look somewhat resembling the original, which I have chosen to be of 1937 vintage, directly after the reconstruction. During my work I took maximum use of the great photo-etch upgrade set provided by White Ensign Models. Thanks a lot Caroline! It takes considerable time and effort to achieve a realistic look if you have an Airfix Warspite kit to start with. The kit is old and not up to the present standards as you can see in the picture taken from an Airfix catalogue. 

Airfix HMS Warspite Under Major Rebuilding
War23GP.JPG (77350 bytes) War28.jpg (90884 bytes) War31GPaft.jpg (68560 bytes)

The basic outline of the hull is correct although its shape had to be modified extensively to have a more sharp bow and stern. The original bulge was altered to gain a more rectangular shape. This was accomplished gluing a stripe if aluminum sheet to the original bulge then using two-component putty to flatten out the upper portion. Into this surface dozens of explosion vents were engraved. The sternwalk was built up using the WEM photo-etch parts. Hundreds of small details were added to the hull sides and decks including 116 mushroom vents, fairleads, bollards, numerous hatches of various styles, cable drums from the Gold Medal Models stock, breakwaters, etc. All scuttles have been drilled out. The ground tackle is completely scratch-built with the original structures being removed from the fo'c's'le deck. The ship's name is composed of tiny individual letters taken from older GMM sets and glued to their place one by one. 

War07GP.JPG (93613 bytes) War16GP.JPG (54946 bytes) War18GP.JPG (53073 bytes) War06GP.JPG (73273 bytes)
War20GP.JPG (101409 bytes) War17GP.JPG (55433 bytes) War19GP.JPG (51565 bytes) War23GPaft.JPG (101450 bytes)

The bridge parts from the signal deck upwards were discarded having been replaced by more accurate scratch-built items. Of interest might be the wind deflectors made of thin metal sheet and the admiral's bridge windows, which you can actually see through. The communications tubing and the anti-aircraft lookout posts are well visible along with the compass and other bridge fittings. The hangar saw its decks and bulwarks thinned or replaced, the funnel was embellished with photo-etch searchlight and siren platforms. The air intake in the after superstructure was hollowed out and imitation of canvas-covered railing was attached on top.

The ship's masts were fashioned out of lengths of steel rods ( injection needle) using the photo-etched starfish. The searchlights are built around cylinders of transparent stretched sprue, painted silver of one layer, which was naturally painted over, giving a glass-like appearance with some depth. The boats were made of the original ones, partly using cast replicas of the more accurate whalers and gig belonging to the Repulse kit, embellished using the WEM boat parts. The fast motor boats have hollowed-out cabins, drilled-out windows and grab rails made of photo-etch railing. Some of them even have wheels. The cranes were upgraded with photo-etch booms, scratch-built bases and stretched sprue rigging. The carley floats boat bottoms of photo-etch grating. The main turrets have a refined form around the face plate with a rectangular look. The turret roofs feature scratch-built gunsights, each made of three pieces. Special care has been taken to sculpt real-looking blast bags from putty. The casemate guns have cast resin cylinders, as the master has been machined by a friend, and injection needle barrels. 

War33GP.JPG (97676 bytes) War34GP.JPG (90590 bytes) War35GP.JPG (96211 bytes) War36GP.JPG (98511 bytes)
War25GP.JPG (110307 bytes) War31GP.JPG (145187 bytes) War28GP.JPG (115701 bytes) War26GP.JPG (136850 bytes)

The 4-inch turrets are WEM resin units with injection needle barrels and other minor upgrade. The pom-pom battery is a combination of resin and photo-etch parts which seemed to be an optimal solution to combine correct shape platforms and breech blocks with fine surface detail. With some scratch-built parts added each pom-pom was made of 53 pieces. Somewhat refined Vickers quadruple AA mounts with elaborate stands and saluting guns complement the armament.

The range-finders are partly upgraded original items whereas the 4-in directors were decidedly left without canvas cover to allow visualization of inner equipment. After I had realized that the planes supplied were Sharks, not Swordfish all I had to do was to add some detail like wing support struts, canopy frame, torpedo, etc. For railing and ladders I used WEM's state-of-the-art photo-etch parts with railing support struts cut off and reattached where deemed appropriate. All railing is made of stretched sprue with Maskol insulators and helm indicator gear. 

War15GP.JPG (63379 bytes) War30GP.JPG (108917 bytes) War37GP.JPG (117390 bytes) War05GP.JPG (68206 bytes)

In 1937 the Warspite was painted Mediterranean Fleet Grey. Preparing for Spanish Civil War neutrality patrol stripes were painted atop turret B. After a complete reconstruction the ship was in immaculate condition. These facts determined the painting process. Humbrol colours were used, H 147 for the overall colour, H 94 for the wooden deck. Steel decks were painted dark grey, rowing boats and booms middle brown with darker detail, while the motor boats have blue hull with light grey bottom, brown deck and white upperworks. Boot topping, funnel top, middle section of masts, scuttles, 6in, 4in and AA barrels plus range-finder arms were painted black with a gunmetal colour ring at the muzzle. Come minor details on boats and searchlights were painted brass colour. Regarding the ship's new condition only contrasting shades were applied, I omitted any kind of weathering. Flags came from the GMM set. Finally, a thin coat of matte varnish was sprayed all over the model.

Dr. George Pék

Photographs and Text sent by Gergely Ákos