"In designing the Dreadnought extraordinary steps were taken to ensure that she should embody all requirements on the smallest dimensions and at the lowest cost, so that the anticipated opposition should not be founded on her excessive size and expense. In every way she proved an epoch-making warship. Brilliant in conception: the cynosure of naval interest during construction and of controversy afterwards: a magnificent success in every way structurally and mechanically: and the finest looking fighting ship of her day." (British Battleships, 1971, by Oscar Parkes, at page 478)

Throughout the last half of the 19th century warship design had been a series of adventures in design. Technology was advancing faster than the ability to construct a warship. By the time a warship was launched, new inventions and discoveries had guaranteed that it would already be obsolescent. Battleships stabilized at around 10,000 tons displacement as dockyard facilities imposed a size constraint. Another size constraint was imposed by the attitude of not placing all of one’s eggs in one basket. It was thought to be much better to have more battleships of 10,000-ton size rather than fewer larger battleships. This was true especially in light that larger ships would require more money per ship and an enormous expenditure to enlarge the supporting docks and infrastructure. The result was larger and larger guns being placed on designs with the freeboard with each design being lowered to maintain stability. These low freeboard designs were of questionable value as their barrels could dip into the sea when trained broadside in even moderate weather conditions. The appearance of the torpedo boat further complicated the equation. Small quick-firing (QF) guns had to now be mounted to protect against this new threat.

By the 1880s some design stability appeared in the Royal Navy. The Admirals Class of 1880 introduced the fore and aft twin 12-inch main gun arrangement in barbettes. This arrangement had been used earlier but in heavy iron turrets. To save weight the Admirals had their main guns open inside armored barbettes. However, the Admirals were still hampered by a low freeboard. It was Sir William White’s exceptional Royal Sovereign design of 1889 that created the basic battleship pattern for the next 15 years. This design had four main guns with a secondary 6-inch battery all on a much higher freeboard that allowed the main guns to be fought in any weather, which was the crucial improvement over the Admirals of nine years earlier.

During this time of experimentation and design uncertainty, an idea would occasionally surface that would call for a battleship with much more than four big guns. In 1882 in a design discussion between Phillip Watts and a young RN Captain John (Jackie) Fisher an all big gun battleship was outlined. This sketch design would incorporate the best features of the Devastation of 1874 and Inflexible of 1881 and would feature eight 12-inch guns, in four twin turrets. Two turrets would be mounted on centerline fore and aft and the other two in wing turrets amidships. In the 1880s the Germans built the Brandenburg Class of battleship that mounted six heavy guns all in three centerline twin positions, although the two amidships guns were of smaller caliber. The Russians also designed and built a class of battleships for their Black Seas fleet that had six heavy guns but in their design the three twin positions were laid out in a triangular design so broadside was still only four guns.

By 1900 it was clear to the Admiralty that the standard RN battleship design of four 12-inch and twelve 6-inch guns was no longer adequate. The Italian and American designs were both designing ships that would incorporate 12-inch, 8-inch and 6-inch guns. The USN New Jersey would have eight 8-inch guns in addition to the four 12-inch and twelve 6-inch guns. As a result the White’s last design, the Royal Navy belatedly added mid-caliber 9.2-inch guns with their King Edward VII Class. In 1902 Phillip Watts became Director of Naval Construction from White who retired from illness. The Admiralty seriously reconsidered where they were heading in battleship design and decided that instead of matching foreign naval developments it would be better for them to have a design superior to any know foreign design. Instead of ordering this design in 1903 three more King Edwards were ordered. The design evolved into the two-ship Lord Nelson Class of 1904 that mounted four 12-inch and ten 9.2-inch guns. Also in 1904 one of the most important personnel changes ever made went into effect, as Admiral Jackie Fisher became First Sea Lord.

In 1902 Fisher had circulated a flyer among his clique of friends, including W.H. Gard Chief Constructor of the Malta Dockyard, about a battleship design involving all big guns. Armstrong had developed a new pattern 10-inch gun that was significantly faster in firing then the standard 12-inch mount. Fisher had always liked the 10-inch gun because of its lighter weight and faster firing ever since he commanded the 10-inch gunned Renown. One design shown to Fisher by Armstrong had eight 10-inch and twenty 6-inch guns on 17,000 tons with a 20-knot speed. It was further figured that if all 6-inch guns were eliminated, the design could mount sixteen 10-inch guns. Fisher liked it! The consensus among his friends was a preference for the heavier 12-inch gun in fewer numbers. However, others were thinking along the same lines. 

Plan & Profile
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"There is however, another method of fighting and sending your enemy to the bottom, but it is one that is capable of adoption only by a navy at the same time most potent and very rich. Let us imagine a vessel whose armour is so well distributed and so impervious as to be able to resist all the attacks of an enemy’s artillery with the exception of the projectiles of the 12-inch guns…Further, if this ideal vessel which we have imagined to be so potently armoured is also very swift, and of a speed greater than that of a possible antagonist, she could not only prevent this latter from getting away, but also avail herself of her superiority in this respect for choosing the most convenient position for striking the belt of the enemy in the most advantageous manner….From this it appears that our ideal and intensely powerful ship we must increase the number of pieces of 12-inch so as to be able to get in at least one fatal shot on the enemy’s belt at the water-line before she has a chance of getting a similar fortunate stroke at us from one of the four large pieces now usually carried as the main armament."

"We thus have outlined for us the main features of our absolutely supreme vessel – with medium calibres abolished - so effectively protected as to be able to disregard entirely all the subsidiary armament of an enemy, and armed with only twelve pieces of 12-inch. Such a ship could fight in the second method we have delineated. Without throwing away a single shot, without wasting ammunition, secure in her exuberant protection, with her twelve guns ready, she would swiftly descend on her adversary and pour in a terrible converging fire at the belt. Having disposed of her first antagonist, she would at once proceed to attack another, and, almost untouched, to despatch yet another, not throwing away a single round of her ammunition, by utilizing all for sure and deadly shots."

"But when a certain number of such colossi of 17,000 tons – six for an example – had been constructed, it is more than probable that the adversary would do his utmost to prevent their getting near him, and, fearful of the fatal result of so unequal a combat, would seek to betake himself elsewhere immediately on the appearance of the famous ‘invincible’ division." (An Ideal Battleship for the British Fleet by Vittorio Cuniberti; All The World’s Fighting Ships 1903, 1903, Edited by Fred T. Jane, at pages 407 through 409

Bow, Stern & Quarter Views
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Speed, Armor and Armament were the trinity of warship design. All aspects of any new design revolved around balancing these three characteristics in a series of compromises. Certain countries had developed tendencies when it came to the balance of the three factors. When it came to sacrificing one characteristic in order to benefit the other two; Germany would sacrifice armament; the USN would sacrifice speed; and Britain, Italy and Japan would sacrifice armor. When Cuniberti wrote his article in 1903, it ran partially against the experience observed in the latest naval war. At the Battle of Santiago in the Spanish-American War, the 8-inch medium guns of the American battleships and armored cruisers proved to be the most effective guns in the engagement. The slow firing 12-inch and 13-inch guns of the United States battleships did not score many hits. Of course a valid counter argument would point out that the Spanish ships were armored cruisers and not battleships. A further extension of this argument would indicate that the 8-inch ordnance would have been much less effective against heavy battleship armor.

Accordingly, it still was a big leap for Cuniberti to advocate abandonment of all medium caliber guns to only retain an all big gun main armament and very light quick-firing (QF) guns for use in repelling torpedo boats. The most modern British battleship building at the time was of the King Edward VII Class. It is interesting to compare three designs, the King Edward VII, Cuniberti’s "Invincible" and the HMS Dreadnought. The King Edward VII displaced 16,350-tons, normal load, carried four 12-inch, four 9.2-inch and twelve 6-inch guns. She had a speed of 18 to 19 knots and an armor belt of 9-inches. The Cuniberti design was very ambitious. With the advantage of over 100 years of Monday morning quarterbacking, it is clear to see that Cuniberti was over optimistic in what he thought could be accomplished in the design. On a displacement of 17,000-tons he stated that the optimum battleship could mount twelve 12-inch guns, carry a 12-inch armor belt and have a maximum speed of 24-knots. In his designs the guns were mounted with twin 12-inch turrets fore and aft and an odd wing turret arrangement of two single and one twin 12-inch turret on each side. The wing twin turret was between and higher than the single turrets. The broadside would be eight shells and the theoretical ahead or astern fire would be eight shells as well. However, blast damage would have precluded this in reality. I don’t think that anybody would want to be on the bridge of such a ship with three 12-inch shells whizzing by on each side, not to mention the tongues of flame coming from the muzzles. The biggest fallacy of the Cuniberti design was the anticipated speed of 24-knots. No factor remotely comes close in increasing size and accordingly displacement as a requirement for significantly higher speed. A geometrical ratio is encountered in adding speed so the horsepower required for each additional knot is arrived at through multiplication rather than addition.

In 1904 Jackie Fisher could finally do something about his beloved all big gun battleship. As First Sea Lord, he has tremendous power and impact. He quickly had new sketches developed for an all big gun design. A committee was assigned and in early 1905 came up with eight different designs mounting from sixteen to eight 12-inch guns. In a series of trade offs, the designs were whittled down until the final one was presented for procurement. This design became HMS Dreadnought and was evolutionary in armament and revolutionary in propulsion.

Hull Detail
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Within three years a battleship was being built that came very close to the vision of Colonel Cuniberti. "The Dreadnought represents a remarkable development in naval construction, which has been for some time foreshadowed, notably by Colonel Cuniberti, the famous Italian naval constructor. The Russo-Japanese war, more particularly the battle of Tsushima, established the fact that naval engagements can and will be fought at greater distances than were formerly considered posssible. Hence the medium armament is held by many authorities to loose much of its value." ." (The Naval Annual 1906, 1906, Edited by John Leyland and T.A. Brassey, at page 2)

HMS Dreadnought displaced 18,120-tons, about a 1,000-tons over Cuniberti’s design. She carried ten 12-inch guns. Like the Cuniberti design an eight gun broadside could be fired. End on fire was a theoretical six guns but again this was illusory as blast damage precluded this. Just as Cuniberti had advocated, the only other guns were light QF anti-torpedo boat guns. With Dreadnought this amounted to 28 12-pounders. The armor belt of Dreadnought was 11-inches, just one inch less than Cuniberti’s design. Dreadnought had a maximum speed of 21-knots, three knots higher than the maximum of other main line battleships. However, all things considered, the Dreadnought was very close to Cuniberti’s ideal.

"Programmes of construction for the British Navy have never been fixed upon abstract principles. We have looked to the construction in hand for other Powers which we must be prepared to meet, and we have tried ‘to go one better.’ This we have certainly done in our latest creation. In dimensions, in armament, in armour, in speed, in coal endurance, the Dreadnought has no rival. The experiences of the Russo-Japanese War have been carefully considered. They may have been anticipated in the design for the Dreadnought." (The Naval Annual 1906, 1906, Edited by John Leyland and T.A. Brassey, Observations on the Statement of Admiralty Policy Lately Laid Before Parliament by T.A. Brassey at page 187 to 188) HMS Dreadnought was a revolutionary design, but not for the reasons most people assume. Her all big gun main armament was evolutionary, not revolutionary. Prior to Dreadnought, battleship secondary guns had been increasing in size with each new design. This made it very difficult to distinguish the splash of a big gun shell from that of secondary armament, a crucial factor in an era of visual range-finding. Adding impetus to the all big gun trend was the Battle of Tsushima during the Russo-Japanese War. Effective firing started far in excess of what was then thought to be effective battle range. And the effects of a single 12" shell hit were observed to be far more devastating than numerous secondary caliber strikes. These developments focused attention on the importance of big gun armament. 

Bridge & Platforms
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The Royal Navy was not the first navy to gain authorization of an all big gun battleship. The 1905-1906 Jane’s Fighting Ships states in the Progress of Construction section, "To the United States belongs the credit of being the first nation to sanction that battleship with a uniform armament of big guns which ever since Colonel Cuniberti’s article on ‘The Ideal Battleship,’ in the 1903 ‘Fighting Ships’ has hovered on the horizon of the building programmes of most naval powers." The trend to the all big gun battleship was already present and its appearance inevitable.

The real impact of HMS Dreadnought was her propulsion system. Until Dreadnought, major warships of all nations used the triple expansion reciprocating steam engine. It had a limited top end so that the maximum speed for a battleship was around 18 knots. At this speed the huge rods and pistons of the engine caused tremendous vibration throughout the ship. The vibration greatly interfered with accurate spotting from the optical rangefinders then in use. Additionally reciprocating machinery broke down with increased frequency when run near its limits. A high-speed run of any duration was likely to result in the ship sitting in harbor for days or making repairs to damaged parts.

The Royal Navy, in an inspired leap of faith, adopted the Parsons turbine for Dreadnought, used only in small ships prior to this time. The turbine was an overwhelming success. Its advantages over reciprocating machinery were enormous. The top speed at 21 knots was at least three knots higher than that of previous first class battleships, maintenance time was greatly reduced, and the lack of the vibration allowed for accurate rangefinding at much greater ranges. Dreadnought burst on the world stage, seemingly out of nowhere. She was laid down on October 2, 1905, launched February 10, 1906 and commissioned September 1, 1906. Eleven months from her keel laying to commissioning, a record never since broken by any other big ship. The speed of construction was a deliberate attempt by the Royal Navy to demonstrate its construction and design capabilities to would-be naval powers. The building materials were pre-stocked at the building site, multiple work-shifts labored around the clock, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, the legendary Jackie Fisher, saw to it that nothing interfered with Dreadnought’s construction.

Superstructure & Masts
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To thoroughly test the new propulsion system, Dreadnought crossed the Atlantic in January 1907 to Trinadad, where the crew undoubtedly preferred the warm Caribbean environment to the cold North Sea in winter. In March she returned to Portsmouth and was made flagship of the Nore Division of the Home Fleet, which had been formerly the Channel Fleet. On March 24, 1909 HMS Dreadnought became flagship of the entire Home Fleet. Within her first five years Dreadnought had hosted King Edward VII twice, King George V and Tsar Nicholas II. By 1911 she was still a young ship with only five years commissioned service but the accelerating pace of battleship design and construction had left her behind. On June 9 she was still a flagship but now instead of fleet flag, she led 1st Division Home Fleet. On July 1, 1913 she was flag for 4th Battle Squadron Home Fleet, with whom she remained throughout most of World War One.

Dreadnought was the naval marvel of the age but her time on center stage was short. In a decade she was obsolescent. She never had the opportunity to fire her guns at German battleships as she missed the Battle of Jutland. Her high point came on March 18, 1915 when she rammed, cut in half and sank U-29, commanded by Otto Weddigen, who had previously sunk the British cruisers, Aboukir, Cressy, Hogue and Hawke. During this she almost collided with Temeraire, which was also trying to ram the U-Boat. Apparently the Dreadnought had developed a taste for ASW for on June 14, 1916 while exercising with the fleet, Dreadnought spotted another U-Boat on the surface. The battleship charged the submarine in order to ram her as well. This time the U-Boat spotted the closing battleship in time to dive out of way of the ram bow. When the war ended in November 1918 there was certainly no reason to keep Dreadnought in service as her design had been far surpassed. In 1920 she was sold for breaking-up.

"The most advanced thinkers in the Navy and those having the greatest personal experience of the sea have come to the definite conviction that the battleship is really dead. No one need fight a battleship except with submarine boats or destroyers, and the sole function of battleships in future wars is to be sunk. They can defend nothing day or night with certainty. But this new battleship now proposed will not only be a battleship but a first class cruiser superior to any but the very latest, hence for years to come she will be useful since whether battleships are or are not used in the future her speed will always make her of the greatest value." (British Battleships, 1971, by Oscar Parkes, at page 469, from argument for all big gun battleship design of 21-knots By Captain R.H.S. Bacon, October 1904) The HMS Dreadnought was a shattering design. In a stroke the status quo of the prior twenty years was vaporized and although theoretically all navies started with a blank slate, in reality the Royal Navy started with significant lead because of the development and construction of the ship. Nothing is so fragile as a military edge. Bacon’s argument that a 21-knot speed would always make this fast battleship valuable worked as long as no one else had designs of similar speed. The 21-knot battleship quickly became the standard battle line speed and only a short eight years elapsed before the next fast battleship design of the Queen Elizabeth upped the speed ante.

Armament & Ship's Boats
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In 1904 the battleship was far from obsolete. Although destroyers were not be threat to the battleship that the "most advanced thinkers" of the Royal Navy thought, they were more accurate with the threat of the submarine. As the Dreadnought emerged as the final evolution of the ship of the line/ heavy gun surface ship, it was not the submarine that finally doomed the viability of the big gun capital ship but a still humble invention that had first seen success only the year before at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the airplane. (An Ideal Battleship for the British Fleet by Vittorio Cuniberti; All The World’s Fighting Ships 1903, 1903, Edited by Fred T. Jane; The Battleship Dreadnought, Anatomy of the Ship, 1992 revised edition 2001,by John Roberts; British Battleships, 1971, by Oscar Parkes; British Battleships of World War One, 1986, by R.A. Burt; The Naval Annual 1906, 1906, Edited by John Leyland and T.A. Brassey)

The Combrig HMS Dreadnought
I wont beat around the bush. The Combrig HMS Dreadnought is one of the three best 1:700 scale warship models that I seen this year. The other two are the White Ensign Models HMS Renown and the JAG USS Bainbridge. It is a tough call because so many other extremely fine kits have made their appearance this year from Combrig’s own Porter Class destroyers and New Orleans Class cruisers to WEM’s superb HMS Queen Elizabeth 1918. Granted there is a great deal of subjective evaluation in this appraisal but with their Dreadnought, I believe that Combrig has hit a new highpoint in the wealth and fineness of detail in their kits. One of the models of which I am most proud was my build of the Rhino Models/Steel Navy HMS Dreadnought in 1:350 scale. (Click for review). That kit has been unobtainable for some time now. However, other than being waterline as opposed to the full hull 1:350 version, the Combrig HMS Dreadnought contains almost all of the detail of the much larger Rhino kit.

The hull casting is magnificent. The detail on the deck is abundant and extremely well done. I compared the deck detail with the line drawings found in The Battleship Dreadnought, Anatomy of the Ship by John Roberts. Detail by detail the fittings on the Combrig Dreadnought matched in shape and location the fittings in the plan. I put the model through the grueling coal scuttle test for accuracy, which involved a direct comparison between the location of each deck coal scuttle on the model with the location of each scuttle on the model. The arrangement of these scuttles was asymmetrical between starboard and port sides. Scuttle by scuttle the scuttles on the Combrig deck matched the drawing. This fidelity to detail to this smallest of details extends to the larger details of the other deck detail. 

Ship's Fittings
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If you look at the photograph of forecastle of the Combrig kit, you’ll find the start of the magnificent deck detail of this casting. You,ll find 24 individual deck fittings, all before you even get to the breakwater. Starting with the twin bitts at the bow, each detail on the foc’sle matched with the Robert’s drawing. The three anchor wells sloped to the forward for the chain run, rather than being just holes in the deck. Likewise the three chain windlass base plates and three housings for the chain locker were present and matched. Asymmetrical bollards, a twin on the port and a single further forward on the starboard, present and matching. Four asymmetrical QF base plates, two large coamings and five small coamings all were present and matched with the Robert’s drawing. Both large coamings and a couple of the smaller fittings were for access hatches. With these you’ll even find the access deck hatches’ outlines scribed on the fittings. Finally you get to the breakwater and you shout, "Aha, a mistake, there are no gussets!" Yes, you’ll find a breakwater devoid of the support ribs or gussets but is it a mistake? No Charlie, it isn’t. The support gussets are individual parts found on one of the two brass photo-etch frets. The location of each brass gusset is indicated on the model with a fine scribed locating line.

Behind the breakwater are found a large metal deck plate with an even larger access coaming and after that, nine smaller fittings scattered about A barbette. Again it was a match between casting and drawing. About the time that you get to A barbette the main deck flares out on each side of the raised forecastle and the deck detail expands. At first you run into more bits, bollards and a solitary access hatch on the port. The bollards have a flared head rather than being straight posts. It is only then that the intricate pattern of circular coal scuttles makes it appearance on each side as solid scuttles contrasting with the deck planking. The Dreadnought has two wing breakwaters, which are done in photo-etch by Combrig. Fine scribed lines on the deck indicates their placement.

On the main deck there is just so much detail present that it is easy to loose track of the number when attempting to count them. However, as forward there is a match between model and drawing. Choose a feature on the model and you’ll find it in the drawing or choose a feature on the drawing and you’ll find it on the model without fail. Approximately 50 deck scuttles are scattered about the main deck. There seems to be a huge number of deck access hatches, especially aft of X barbette, a smaller secondary group aft of Y barbette with others scattered hither and yon. After the coal scuttles, access coamings are the next most frequent fitting. However, since they are raised from the deck, they are much more prominent. Each hatch as scribed lines outlining the circumference of the hatch. In addition to the scuttles and hatch coamings, there are plenty more bits, bollards, deck plates, QF plates and other fittings located on this kit. I could not find any fitting on the Robert’s deck plan that was omitted on the Combrig model.

Brass Photo-Etch Fret #1
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The hull sides naturally have very few fittings but they do have some. The hull lines appear on the money from the ram bow cutwater, to the slight flare of the bow and diagonal line where the main deck starts. Anchor hawse openings are well done and a square access hatch is found at the bow. Unlike other kits of warships from this period, the Combrig Dreadnought has a torpedo net shelf cast into the hull. In the profile photos you can easily see its presence by the line of shadow it casts on the upper hull. With the hull sides I did find some omissions with a very important caveat. There are more small square side hatches then just the two at the bow. They were not located on the hull casting. However, this is apparently by design as the one of the photo-etch frets includes relief etched doors are appear to be correct for these hull doors. These photo-etch parts do not appear on my draft instructions but they do look perfect for these hull positions. Additionally, it would have been nice for Combrig to have included the base plates for the net booms, especially since they have taken the time to design and include very fine net booms.

Smaller Resin Parts
The forward superstructure part is very different in the Dreadnought from other kits in that it is open inside the bulkhead perimeter with overhead platforms, instead of being enclosed with a solid overhead deck. The bulkheads are pierced by four square openings for the barrels of the QF guns mounted inside the bulkheads. These openings have a fine film covering them but are easily opened with a hobby knife. Inside the bulkhead are found another deck access hatch, support posts and base for the conning tower and bridge, forward funnel base plate, plus deck openings for the tripod legs. The aft superstructure does have an enclosed 01 level with full deck. Above that is again found the solid bulkhead with two more openings for QF barrels. Also found on the 01 deck are another series of square or rectangular mid size structures, the base for the aft funnel, a couple of coal scuttles and the locator hole for the centerline tripod leg of the foremast. One design defect of the Dreadnought was the foremast. The designer reversed the usual tripod and placed the wing legs in front of the main centerline leg and the spotting top structure was placed above and behind the forward stack. The purpose of this was to allow the centerline leg to also serve as the base for the boat boom amidships, rather than have a separate crane kingpost. This weight saving measure was a false economy because the spotting top was greatly hampered by its placement behind and above the funnel. Heat and exhaust could make manning the top untenable. Oddly enough this poor design decision was repeated in a couple of other RN capital ship designs.

The funnels are hollowed out to a good degree and are features in themselves. Large, slab sided and elongated oval in shape, they both feature prominent aprons at the base and cap level. The aft stack is much larger than the fore stack. Both stacks have rectangular resin base casings. There are two conning towers. The main forward conning tower is part of a platform that rests above the open forward 01 level and the aft control station is actually more amidships and rests on a solid base forward of the aft stack. The forward superstructure rises from this platform as a series of additional platforms all supported by support posts and latticework. Various platforms and chart house are resin pieces that for part of the bridge structure but are only part of the entire structure as Combrig has made very extensive use of photo-etch for this structure, which will be covered in the photo-etch section. The stump mainmast is a small tripod with nice resin parts making up the base. Both main and fore tripods have resin parts for the control tops with the addition of numerous brass supports and platforms. All tripod legs are in resin with no warp. Other larger structural details are included as different square resin structures found on various platforms and round edge ventilator covers.

Brass Photo-Etch Fret #2
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The armament of Dreadnought, excluding underwater torpedo tubes, came in two sizes, large or very small. As the first all big gun battleship, the only complement to the ten 12-inch guns was a large number of small QF guns scattered in open mounts all over the ship. The British 12-inch/45 turret had a unique shape. It was faceted and had less height at the forward face than the rear face. Like a wedge it grew in height as it went towards the rear. Each turret had three elongated sighting hoods near the forward edge and feature walkways on the turret crowns for the QF guns mounted on the top of each turret. The bulk of each turret, including sighting hoods are found as resin parts in the Combrig kit but the crown detail is provided as separate brass turret crowns for each turret. The 12-inch barrels were all perfectly formed with no warp but did not have hollowed out muzzles. The multiple QF guns are extraordinarily fine. Each of these miniature gems is made of two resin parts. Each has a tapering pillar mount with round base plate and cradle at the top and separate gun mechanism and barrel piece so that they can individually trained at any bearing at any degree of altitude. In spite of the very small size of these guns, the breech mechanisms have a high degree of detail. These small QF guns will make a dramatic impact on the finished model, not because of their size, but because of their number. They can be found everywhere on Dreadnought, on the foc’sle, on the quarter deck, on turret tops and in different amidships positions. The fact that Combrig has produced such a fine piece of resin ordnance for the humble QF adds a significant impact.

Combrig throws in a huge number of other equipment fittings, many of which are unique to this ship. At different places in the superstructure, machinery extended through bulkheads. This was especially notable in the open area of the forward superstructure. There are two winches found here with the main machinery found inside the superstructure but the revolving drums extended through the bulkhead to be seen outside. Combrig supplies excellent parts for the inside machinery and outside drums. Other unique machinery parts are found throughout the amidships area. That is just the start of the smaller fittings. There are a series of finely done resin cable or hose reels that come in different sizes that are also found throughout the ship, on open decks as well as inside the open bulkheads of the superstructure. Searchlights, signal lamps, binnacles, and superb anchor windlasses with individual ratchet notches make up the galaxy of exceptionally high quality smaller equipment parts. The three resin anchors are far above average in detail. Of special note is the inclusion of finely done net booms for the sides of the ship. With the Combrig Dreadnought you don’t have to add your own with wire or stretched sprue. These resin booms were warp free but a couple were broken because of their fine delicacy. There are plenty of ship’s boats, steam and oar powered. Some of the oar-powered boats have oars cast onto the thwarts and all have clearly delineated bottom planking. The steam launches come with plenty of detail, including hollowed out funnel tops, handrails and canvas awnings aft.

Two Brass Photo-Etch Frets
The resin parts to the Combrig Dreadnought are extraordinarily fine and numerous but they are only part of the story of this kit. The model comes with two brass photo-etch frets. Normally you would think that photo-etch for a modern warship such as the Combrig Slava or Moskva Class missile cruiser would be more extensive than that found in the first all big gun battleship. After all the Slava has all of the large radar arrays found on large modern warships. However, the two frets for the Combrig Dreadnought top even that. Why? There are two reasons, first Dreadnought has many open platforms, which Combrig has provided in brass for thinness and second Combrig has provided almost every possible detail on these frets, although I am still looking for the kitchen sink. I cannot overstate the degree of detail included on these frets.

The larger fret is dominated by platforms. The largest and most conspicuous are the two piece flying boat platform. As the name "flying" implies, this lightly constructed platform soared above the more solid superstructure below and was a characteristic of the ships of the period until it was realized that damage could bring the platform down and encumber guns or equipment below. These pieces feature fine boat skids for both and cross bracing for the forward platform. Another stand out part is the pilothouse. It is a single piece of brass with fold lines so that it can easily be folded into the four-sided structure. However, because it is brass, its multiple square windows are open and you can see inside the pilothouse. This is outstanding! This feature is rare enough in 1:350 scale but to find it in a 1:700 scale ship is breath taking! You can super-detail the pilothouse and if you can find a light filament small enough and able to be concealed, have it lit up. The same is true for the front face of the bridge. It is a brass part with open windows. The next three largest structures on this fret are lattice support for the bridge and two clinker grates for the stack caps. These major parts take up about one third of this fret but detail doesn’t end. There are numerous relief-etched doors or hatches of five different sizes. Some are undoubtedly deck hatch covers but also I believe the hull square hatches are there too as they match the Robert’s drawings. There are all sorts of supports for the two control tops as well as larger supports for the bridgework. Small platforms, small anchors, davits, anchor chain, boat chocks, ship’s wheels, mast & boom tackle and even the stern name plates that clearly spell Dreadnought are included on this fret. The only weak point is with the inclined ladders and accommodation ladders. They do not have handrails. Since there is no railing on either fret, most modelers will have inclined ladders included with their third party railing fret, so I don’t consider this a significant problem.

Draft Instructions - Final Instructions Not Yet Complete
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The second smaller brass fret has fewer parts. However, it is dominated by two items. There are the five turret crowns. Each brass crown has opening cut where it fits over the central sighting hoods on the resin turrets. Base plates for the turret QF position are present as well as the aft turret access hatch and crown treadway for the QF crews. One very small point is that the treadway is sunk into the brass crown, while I believe that it was raised on the crowns of the original ship. The second major item is a walkway that runs the circumference of the top of the open forward superstructure and has two searchlight positions. The balance of this fret comprises more boat chocks, platform supports and some parts I just don’t recognize but maybe they are the missing kitchen sinks for which I have been searching.

Since I only received draft instructions with this kit, I cannot comment about the final version. What I did receive were draft drawings for the main assembly diagram and separate subassembly drawings. What I really liked about these was their size. The sheets were substantially larger than the standard format Combrig instructions. It made it much easier to spot all the minute detail that goes into each subassembly. What I did not have is the plan and profile along with the data normally found on the front side of standard format of Combrig instructions. The plan and profile will undoubtedly be in 1:700 scale and will be absolutely essential in order to locate some of the smaller parts that probably not be found on the assembly drawings. In fact because of the great multitude of resin and brass parts in this kit and the complexity of assembly, I strongly suggest the modeler to check out of their local library a copy of The Battleship Dreadnought, Anatomy of the Ship by John Roberts.

The Combrig HMS Dreaadnought is a complex model and probably not suitable for the novice modeler because of its complexity and high resin and brass parts count. Additionally the parts can be very small and require a degree of skill in maneuvering them into place. The resin casting, especially of the deck detail is superb and all of the smaller resin parts are of the very highest order of quality. With two brass frets of ship specific detail, Combrig has gone further in brass detail than ever before. To me Combrig with their 1:700 kit of HMS Dreadnought has reached a newer higher plateau in detail, fidelity and complexity in their kits. It is truly a "must have" for anyone remotely interested in the development of the battleship.