BATTLECRUISER! Ö-can there be a more evocative term for a warship type? Generally, battle cruisers were similar in layout and armament to battleships but with significantly less armour allowing for gains in speed.  The concept was conceived by the Royal Navy's  Admiral " Jackie" Fisher  who believed " that speed is the best protection".  Fisher's idea centred on battle cruisers operating with the fleet, the intention being that they would hunt down enemy cruiser squadrons and evade the battleships. To enable these large ships to achieve the speed advantage sought the design concept deviated from the standard practice of providing a ship with sufficient armour to protect against its own guns. The weight saving from the reduced armour allowed more powerful engines to be fitted. However, different nations built to widely different designs. Some battle cruisers were smaller than battleships while others were larger than contemporary battleships. The chief similarity was the role specification. They were designed to hunt down and outgun smaller warships and outrun larger warships that they could not outgun.

The Lion class battle cruisers were an improved development  on the  previous  Invincible  and Indefatigable classes of first generation battle cruisers. HMS Queen Mary is often listed as the third member of the Lion class, although a better description would be a half-sistership as she was fitted with more powerful machinery, different secondary armament disposition,  carried a sternwalk,  as well as the centre  funnel being round. This was the easiest visual  clue  to differentiate  her from HMS Lion and Princess Royal.  Queen Mary was the only warship fitted with the 'Pollen' gunnery control system. Her 13.5-inch guns were considered to be  the most accurate in the British fleet.

HMS Queen Mary Vital Statistics
Loa 703 feet 6 in         beam 89 feet      draught 28 feet     displacement 26,780  tons normal 31,486 tons deep.
4 shaft Parsons turbines, 75,000 shp, 27.5 knots    ( Trials:    83,350 shp = 28.348 knots.)
8 x 13.5in 45cal MK V      16 x 4in     4 x 3 pounder, 2 x 21in TT
1st Battlecruiser Squadron Grand Fleet.
28 August 1914 Battle of Heligoland Bight
January-February 1915 refit at Portsmouth.
31 May 1916 sunk at the Battle of Jutland   

Upon commissioning, she joined the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron. On 28 August 1914 she took part in the  Battle of Heligoland  Bight . At the Battle of Jutland  she had fired about 150 13.5 in shells and scored 4 hits on the German battklecrusier SMS Seydlitz , nvertheless  the Seydlitz hit back. Queen Mary was first hit above the right gun on 'Q' turret; which put that gun out of action whilst  the left gun kept firing. She took some more 12-in shell hits on her forward 'A' and 'B' turrets followed by  another hit on  'Q' turret. The forward magazine exploded, the ship listed to port,  more explosions followed as the ship was sinking. All but twenty of her 1,275 crew were lost

Building  the Model
Well known German resin  ship kit  manufacturer NNT has  produced an excellent starting point for building a 1/700 scale model of this majestic vessel. Along with various book and web resources, I used primarily the excellent large scale plans supplied with the John Roberts book, Battlecruisers. This has, along with the usual  plan and side elevations, some very helpful cross-sections at various stations, as well as a very explanatory large perspective drawing of the bridge-tower structure. I cross-referenced these plans with as many photos as I could find from both electronic as well as printed  sources. The ships short career is, I believe, reflected in the relative scarcity of close-up photos. In my opinion had this same plan been used in the construction of the master model, the construction time of my model would have been cut dramatically.

The reason for this is that the huge amount of cast on deck detail is all in the correct place but is however all flat.  Study of plans in side elevation and cross-section  shows the many flat squares on the  deck casting to be actually square and round  mushrooom vents of varying sizes and heights, small deckhouses, tackle bins, lockers and skylights which are all very much three-dimensional. I made all these using styrene stock, paper and brass wire, etc. The lower position of wartime boat crutches were all removed and their reinforced skid positions marked in with tape strips. I added the coaling winch drums to the bulkheads as well as made 4 x  winches for the correctly placed  but flat positions. All the entirely missing cable reels were either scratch-built or White Ensign Models Pro-series resin items. I drew in hinges and clips on all  lockers with a very sharp pencil and outlined many of the deck fittings in pencil to sharpen up the final effect. The above comments in no real way detract from the overall excellence of the product, which I would highly recommend to anyone wishing to build a model of this great but flawed warship.

This high quality kit has flawless casting- but there are some areas that required research and  further work to be undertaken to allow me to be satisfied. The first  major area that required work  was the  aft  casemate/ boat stowage area. The outline plan-view footprint was spot on, however, the walkway around the top on the real ship  was supported on pillars  giving an undercut not represented in the kit casting-this area being solid. I attacked this problem by first making a paper tracing to use as a template for  the new supported deck. Then the offending, to my eye, solid resin area was ground away with a motor tool , taking care not to penetrate the hull sides or to go too deep. A drum shaped  grind stone was essential for this operation. The outer 'walls' were lined with Evergreen strip, painted and thereafter, it was time to view the fruits of my labours by applying the  new paper deck. Once glued in place with the CA glue fully cured the excess was trimmed off, and sanded flat with very fine sandpaper, as the CA glue  lifts the grain of the paper very slightly. The higher level aft was created using more paper and the stairway apertures onto both sides of the quarterdeck were  cut through also at this  stage. Stairway well was cut in, tackle boxes and other detail added. The funnel bases were somewhat bare-- study of plans and the aforementioned drawings showed them to be festooned with cover plates over vents--easily represented with  squares of brass/paper. I thought further investigation revealed that the cover plates were removed when the vessel was underway, so I now had to simulate the vent grilles after some experimentation. I used old Gold Medal Models inclined ladders with the handrails trimmed off into suitable sized square vent grilles. Although obviously somewhat over-scale, the overall effect is pleasing to the eye on the finished model. 

QM01jb.jpg (9544 bytes) QM02jb.jpg (11940 bytes) QM06jb.jpg (11927 bytes)
QM07jb.jpg (16467 bytes) QM84jb.jpg (16604 bytes) QM36jb.jpg (16992 bytes)
QM92jb.jpg (9261 bytes) QM87jb.jpg (17712 bytes) QM89jb.jpg (16027 bytes) QM25jb.jpg (15881 bytes)

The first level of the forward bridge on the real ship was  also open aft and housed  some large cable reels, etc. The solid casting of the kit was ground out from underneath and the stairway apertures cut in. The entire structure turned into quite a project in itself. The cast solid splinter shields were cut away and replaced with photo-etched railing to be filled with white glue to represent the canvas covered railings. All the connecting stairs were installed and when solid the lower mast was drilled true and installed, so as to give the structure some stability. The upper bridge had a taller 3-bar railing. I culled this from an old  1/600 scale GMM Merchant ship fret. The difference in scale, giving the taller railing effect perfectly. The platform aft of the conning tower was cut from brass and was furnished with railings and inclined ladders. The railings were filled with white glue and the structure placed on the ship. Styrene filler plates were inserted to make the aft edge flush with the base according to the photos and plans I had. All the cast doors had been carved off and replaced with photo-etched items all over the entire model. The supplied photo-etch blast plates needed a little fettling to get them to sit flush and fair atop the resin bases.

At this stage the hull was showing signs of slight warpage fore and aft. I nipped this tendency in the bud immediately by affixing the hull to a 3mm stainless steel with stainless steel countersunk screws into pre-drilled holes in the underside. I periodically removed the hull for working on when rotation or access was required to undersides of platforms but always screwed it back onto its metal base between work sessions. The solid funnels had their centres drilled out, although care was needed here to prevent distortion  being caused by heat build-up from the cutting tool. Somewhat later I noticed that the forward funnel was 1 millimetre too short in relation to the others. I would otherwise have made a  replacement item. As the funnel base was surrounded by boats, I cured the problem by inserting a sliver of styrene underneath. The funnel flange is a little higher but cannot be seen due to surrounding boats. 

QM12jb.jpg (10394 bytes) QM19jb.jpg (12735 bytes) QM21jb.jpg (13499 bytes)
QM49jb.jpg (10268 bytes) QM29jb.jpg (16834 bytes) QM701jb.jpg (15681 bytes) QM902jb.jpg (16528 bytes)
QM906jb.jpg (18058 bytes) QM00jb.jpg (16076 bytes) QM34jb.jpg (120003 bytes) QM85jb.jpg (98709 bytes)

The complex and delicate funnel caps were made entirely of stretched sprue. With the bridge installed and the mast inserted all the way through into the lower hull, my attention turned to the supporting struts and gussets under the upper bridge level with paper and cannibalized photo-etched scrap giving the desired effect. With the hull topsides painted, the ship was beginning to look very elegant but in spite of NNT having captured the slight tumblehome of the hull sides very well it all looked a little ' flat'. I drew in all the rigoles (eyebrows) for the scuttles with a sharp pencil. Detailed examination of photos of the real ship showed that in most lighting conditions, the fore and aft hull plating strake lines were visible. Reckoning it being impossible to recreate these within scale, I opted to 'sketch' in this detail. Having applied Tamiya masking tape following the layout on the plans I then drew along the tape guide with a very sharp pencil. After removal of the tape the effect was made more subtle by brushing down vertically with methylated spirits, which coincidentally removed the sheen of the pencil rather well as a bonus. The somewhat plain aft rangefinder had observation slits painted on and a brass cross member installed after drilling the top of the small casting athwart ship.

QM64jb.jpg (73132 bytes) QM58jb.jpg (67216 bytes) QM90jb.jpg (83293 bytes)
QM921jb.jpg (79418 bytes) QM98jb.jpg (42706 bytes) QM83jb.jpg (67410 bytes)
QM86jb.jpg (52798 bytes) QM901jb.jpg (108329 bytes) QM55jb.jpg (79929 bytes) QM74jb.jpg (72211 bytes)
QM81jb.jpg (80973 bytes) QM907jb.jpg (106427 bytes) QM707jb.jpg (63837 bytes) QM911jb.jpg (39023 bytes)

The well-rendered turrets had integral blast bags nicely shaped. Finding no reason to re-invent the wheel, I  simply drilled out the resin and installed the NNT supplied Schatton gun barrels. The ships boats impressed with their outline accuracy. Small details such as handrails, folded stacks, doors cleats and life-preserver were added to the steam launches, whilst the oar-propelled boats had the sculling notches cut in using a blade. The aft stern-walk was made using the excellent supplied photo-etch mesh piece in conjunction with a paper floor and a paper roof, which was given its conical shape using white glue. The starfish platform on the forward mast  was supplied as a solid resin casting. It had a good outline but was too clunky for my liking, so I made a new  platform of cannibalized WEM photo-etch and paper. The open spotting top was supplied as a solid casting. This is fine for when the ship was in harbour, as the apertures were covered with canvas screens. However, with the model representing a vessel underway, I made a new platform of paper and a white glue roof. Siren platforms on the forward funnel were made of paper with pipes and sirens being of brass wire. After installing the nickel-silver wire torpedo net booms, I added more detail. These had brackets that held them in place on the hull side, which appeared to have a locking bar that went over the boom in some way. I mimicked the photos I had and made these from RC Cammett vinyl tape secured with a micro-drop of CA at both ends. This achieved a sharp result with which I was pleased. 

I wanted to install the brailing davits for the net. The main feature was perfectly regular spacing and consistent size, which are difficult aims to achieve perfectly. The slightest error in distance/inclination or size would be worse than not having them at all.  I cut up old and over-scale 1/350 scale handrails, using the railing joint 'ball' as the pulley block. When bent around by 90 degrees it gave a fair impression of the item but more importantly it was totally repeatable in size and spacing. Torpedo nets  were supplied with the kit, however after study of photos  I felt that the supplied  cord was too thick and regular in appearance-so I used a button cord partially unraveled, then soaked in CA and then painted with PVA. The overall effect is quite pleasing.

QM69jb.jpg (75396 bytes) QMP86jb.jpg (48422 bytes) QMP108jb.jpg (57196 bytes) QMP87jb.jpg (77966 bytes)
QMP99jb.jpg (81416 bytes) QMP97jb.jpg (124284 bytes) QMP98jb.jpg (128106 bytes) QMP104jb.jpg (59507 bytes)
QMP107jb.jpg (62383 bytes) QMP116jb.jpg (142506 bytes) QMP117jb.jpg (125276 bytes) QMP185jb.jpg (67074 bytes)

The anchor chain was  a model railway item,  passing through the drilled hawse pipes to the fine kit supplied photo-etched anchors. The capstans are made of N-scale  brass buffers topped with some fine photo-etch brass circles from L'Arsenal. The check chains were made of   some old  WEM photo-etch chain. On the upper bridge platform I added the awning stanchions as well as the portside small chart table, complete with tiny paper chart. The kit supplied photo-etch sea-boat davits featured the griping spar brackets, a nice touch. These were used in conjunction with a boarding net cut from cake decoratorís  yellow veil coloured with an indelible marker pen. The  model had  a GMM  photo-etch crew installed and was ready for flat-coat and rigging. 

I spent much time attempting to create passable cage aerials. They are always drawn as being very prominent on plans, yet in contemporary photos they are often nigh invisible.  Even using GMM Goldplus rails rolled around thin wire, the overall effect was far too heavy for my liking. I elected to leave them off and indicate them on the model by using extremely fine stretched sprue in their positions. All the masts were made of stainless steel welding rod that had been tapered for me by Steve Foulkes,  using a drill and contra-rotating sanding disc in an angle grinder. All rigging was stretched sprue tightened in the usual manner with hot smoke from incense sticks and no mean amount of patience. Handrails were GMM Gold plus superfine in the main and the entire model apart from the decks was painted with WEM Colourcoats, washed with white watercolour to reduce their 'strength' a bit. Having not a single photo of HMS Queen Mary at speed I elected to portray her trickling along at about 8 knots or so.

QM083jb.jpg (87134 bytes) QMP174jb.jpg (41294 bytes) QMP179jb.jpg (76283 bytes)
QMP188jb.jpg (44324 bytes) QMP175jb.jpg (63604 bytes) QMP187jb.jpg (44000 bytes)
QMP106jb.jpg (63192 bytes) QMP119jb.jpg (75969 bytes) QMP176jb.jpg (65042 bytes) QMP172jb.jpg (59439 bytes)

In Conclusion 
NNT has filled a void in the available ship subjects with a great kit, which would build into a fine replica out of the box but can be much further refined if so desire. My primary source of  information was the aforementioned Roberts plan and book along with:

       R. A.  Burt                       British Battleships of World War One
Anthony Preston                 Battleships of World War One
Burt and Trotter                  Battleships  of the Grand Fleet

Useful web resources: