You may have noticed on the message board a whole parade of messages that go way beyond congratulating Steve Nuttall on the excellence of his turned brass replacement barrels. Every such message has been universally giddy with delight over the quality of the barrels that the modeler received to complete their assorted models. Could this be true or are they all suffering from some form of mass hypnosis? After carefully examining two sets of Steveís 1:350 scale turned brass replacement barrels, I have come to a conclusive answer. Da, Ja, Oui, Si or Yes, it doesnít matter what your native happens to be, the answer is a BIG AFFIRMATIVE that these barrels are truly exceptional products.
Machined brass barrels have been around for some time in 1:700 scale. The first offerings that I remember came from Clipper of Japan, who specialized at first in Japanese and USN subjects and then added assorted RN and German subjects. NNT has an extensive line of brass barrels, naturally with emphasis on German ordnance with further emphasis on World War One German and British subjects. Regia Marina produces stainless steel 1:700 barrels for Italian subjects. Mike Bartel provides brass barrels for his newer Never Were models. But what of other scales? Mike Quan and the Waterline Divine Cult have long enjoyed a wealth of choices but modelers in what some have called the Manly Scale of 1:350 have suffered in silence as Mini Mike and his minions have cavorted in glee over the panorama of barrels in 1:700. LíArsenal makes some very nice brass barrels for the 5-inch/38 DP but I canít recall anyone producing any other barrels in 1:350 scale, until Model Barrels came on line. Rejoice! Manly-men, your suffering has come to an end for Model Barrels of the noble Commonwealth of Canada has come to your rescue. Steve Nuttall calls his operation Model Barrels, Steveís CNC Cut Brass Replacement Barrels, which may be somewhat long winded but in fact may be an understatement.
These barrels are so far above resin or spun white metal barrels in quality, that the word "replacement" is far too understated, hollow and pale to convey their true excellence. Of course Steve does also produce barrels in 1:700 scale for a variety of subjects, but it is in the area of the big scales that these beauties have the impact of a salvo of 18.1-Inch shells from Yamato. Speaking of Yamato, yes Steve has not only 18.1-inch barrels in 1:350 but also the 6.1-inch secondary barrels and even further small AA barrels. If you have one of the nifty Japanese cruisers just released by Yankee Modelworks, Model Barrels can fit you up in 8-inch barrels for Mogami 1942, Mogami 1944, Tone or 6.1-inchers for Mikuma 1937. There seems to be constant additions to the line up but to keep up with the offerings, all you have to do is scroll through his listings. Is 1:350 too small for you? No problem, Steve also has even larger scale offerings such as a 1:96 British 4.5-inch DP. Speaking of 1:96 scale, Steve worked up a limited edition set of lovely 11-inch Dahlgrens and 32pdrs for the Revell-Germany USS Kearsarge. For those that were not in the queue for this set when it was announced, you're in luck. I have it on good authority, in fact from Steve Man of Metal Nuttall himself, that he will make a few more of the Kearsarge sets. Their availability will be announced on the SteelNavy message board. When some modelers were late to the gate and missed out on acquiring a set, there was practically a riot of modelers demanding that they too should be allowed to purchase a set. Their eagerness to acquire these barrels rests on a very strong foundation. Simply stated, Steveís barrels are the best products of their type that I have seen. Steve also produces other items, such as periscopes and drive shafts for the 1:72 scale U-Boat.
Although a 18.1-inch Yamato/Mushashi 1:350 scale barrel and 4.5-inch 1:96 scale barrel are shown above, two complete sets of barrels are shown below mounted in the turrets of a 1:350 scale model. Subject #1 is the Royal Navy 12-Inch/45 Mk X barrel set. This set was designed for the 1:350 scale HMS Dreadnought by Steel Navy/Rhino Models but, as you can see, it is correct ordnance for another kit as well. The photographs below show the Model Barrels RN 12-Inch Mk X fitted to the turrets of the HMS Invincible from ISW. This piece of ordnance on nine RN capital ships, Dreadnought, Invincible, Inflexible, Indomitable, Bellerophon, Temeraire, Superb, as well as the predreadnoughts Lord Nelson and Agamemnon. One other RN ship mounted 12-inch/45 guns, although they were of an Armstrong design and that was Agincourt. As I took these barrels out of their pack, the first thing that I looked for was the very slight flair at the muzzle. Sure enough it was there. However, then I was struck by something odd about the muzzles. There seemed to be additional detail there. I put on higher power glasses and I was sure there was something there but it wasnít until I examined magnified photographs from the miracle of macro-photography that I was positive that Model Barrels has provided the line for the barrel liners. You may think of a barrel liner as a tube within a tube. The barrel liner contains the rifling and is the portion of the gun that wears out after so many rounds go down the tube. This is the portion of a piece of heavy naval ordnance that is replaced. At the muzzle it appears to be an inner ring to the circumference of the barrel opening. You will find this feature on Model Barrels products!
To get a better view, you can look at subject #2. These are Royal Navy 15-inch/42 Mk I guns, shown in the turrets of the ISW Queen Elizabeth. As the dreadnought building race entered itís final lap before the eruption of World War One, the Admiralty was in a quandary. The Royal Navy had been the first to up the ante from the world standard of 12-inch guns for dreadnoughts with the 13.5-inch gun, which the RN thought would give them a significant edge. However, it wasnít too long before Japan and the USA had developed 14-inch designs. Winston Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty and he wanted to leap past the Yankee cousins and the Japanese, who were allied by treaty. He selected a 15-inch/42 gun for the new fast battleship design of the Queen Elizabeth. He gambled that this undeveloped piece of ordnance would be successful. Since the development and construction of the heavy guns of a dreadnought was the most time consuming aspect of battleship construction, he ordered the new gun design before they had been tested. This piece of heavy ordnance is one of the most successful designs developed during the dreadnought period and is the best all around ordnance ever developed for the Royal Navy. The 15-inch/42 Mk I is the proper ordnance for a wide variety of RN warships. There are the five Queen Elizabeths, five R Class, Repulse, Renown, Hood, Glorious & Courageous as built, Vanguard 1946, as well as the WWII monitors Abercrombie and Roberts. Right now they are perfect if you have a WEM or ISW 1:350 HMS Hood, but then whenever the spectral injected plastic Hood decides to materialize from the ether, there will be plenty of modelers bellying up to Steveís Barrel Bar for an eight shot of 15-inch/42s. WEM has announced that they will be producing 1:350 scale models of Abercrombie and Roberts. When they are produced, it will only take two of Steveís barrels to outfit the main turrets of those beauties.
They are the best barrels that you can buy! About the only thing missing is the rifling inside the barrel, although I would not be surprised if even that might be present, lurking inside the tube.