Historical Synopsis
HMS Renown was laid down in 1915 and launched 1916. After fitting out and trials she joined the Home Fleet for the remainder of World War 1. She was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet for a succession of Royal tours throughout the world through the 1920's. Thereafter she served with the Atlantic and Home fleets as well as briefly in the Mediterranean until May 1936 whereupon she paid off before a major refit. Upon her recommissioning in August 1939 she joined the Home Fleet at the outbreak of World War 2 , being detached shortly after to join Force K in the South Atlantic to hunt German commerce raiders. Her 'apparent' presence was a contributory cause to Graf Spee scuttling herself after being cornered at Montevideo.

Renown rejoined the Home Fleet shortly to be action off of Narvik with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, scoring damaging hits on the latter. August 1940 saw Renown transferred to Force H at Gibraltar as flagship supporting the Malta convoys. From here she partook in the action off Cape Spartivento and the bombarment of Genoa. In May 1941 she was called upon to assist in hunting the Bismarck, although she did not engage the elusive German battleship. After further convoy service she returned home for another refit. She spent periods of time with both the Home Fleet as well as Force H before being transferred to Eastern Fleet at the end of 1943. In the east she covered various operations before returning home in 1945. After the war she was reduced to reserve and partially disarmed. She was finally broken up for scrap in 1948. A far more detailed analysis of HMS Renown’s background, career as well as the model kit in box review can be found in Steve Backer's excellent article at: http://www.steelnavy.com/WEMRenown.htm

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Construction of HMS RENOWN
I pre-ordered my 1:700 resin kit of HMS Renown from White Ensign Models when it was still merely a rumour. The 1:700 scale resin kit of HMS Renown released by White Ensign Models was eagerly anticipated by many RN fans for a very long time. Delayed by mastering and production problems, after a lengthy gestation period, the patience of the lucky purchasers of the kit was indeed well rewarded! I was fortunate in receiving my kit from the first batch. Upon opening the box I was greeted by an exquisite hull casting, as well as many very well rendered superstructure and small parts. The photo-etch sheet is extensive, and its A5 size belies the huge amount of detailed parts contained within therein. The photo shows how I kept track of the used and unused parts. I decided my model of HMS RENOWN would portray the ship as she would have appeared in the middle part of 1942 while sporting the wonderful camouflage scheme that is shown in the colour rendition of the scheme in port & starboard elevations in the instructions. The camouflage scheme was amended and improved over the version shown in the generally helpful but on occasions misleading Profile Morskie (PM) drawings and illustrations. I used as my primary source of info the photographs of the ship in a variety of publications. The primary source for the general arrangement drawing I chose to use was the line drawing in Raven and Roberts' "British Battleships of World War 2" (RR), as it appeared to correspond more closely on minor detail matters with the photos of my chosen timeframe. That said however, no drawing is 100% perfect. Checking photos I found a couple of minor discrepancies in the R/R drawings.

As with any model kit there is always more detail that can be added over and above the box contents. This in part contributed towards the lengthy build time for me of nearly 3 months. I commenced the build by the painting of the beautifully represented deck, complete with plank butt ends. This is a feature of virtually all timber decked ships that is rarely if ever seen in small scale modeling. It is often so overdone in larger scales that the butt end pattern stands out far too much in relation to the fore and aft caulking lines. So right from the start subtlety was the keyword. Checking photos of contemporary timber decks showed the virtual invisibility of the feature in aerial photos, it only becoming visible when in closer proximity. I wanted to recreate this effect, so ruled out any deliberate highlighting of the butt ends, and worked simply to paint, 'caulk' and shade the deck as normal. This allowed the shadow of the depressions in the casting of the plank ends to speak for themselves without any paint! Overall I am very pleased with the resulting deck, the butt-ends only appear to the eye when one gets the tip of the nose onto the mast-top!

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I started the actual construction by assembling the bridge tower structure, carefully painting and detailing doors and scuttles as I went before they became inaccessible. I added the pipe-work and ship's crest visible below the bridge windows. The windows I carved out and replaced with some ladder-stock for a crisper look. The remainder of the structures had doors added and the outlines were checked and re-checked to ensure all was square. The bridge side faces were a little featureless, and checking of photos and plans showed these to have had some additional scuttles as well as oblong openings, which I represented with paint. There were also various protrusions, and I duly added these. The aircraft hangar doors are very well done indeed, and I brought out the corrugated effect with pencil shading. As my ship would be depicted underway at speed, the doors were closed and the plane stowed. I changed my mind later when I re-read the caption to a photo showing Renown at speed: "...note the Walrus on the catapult...."! I used the Walrus castings and photo-etch supplied with the kit, but cut away the moulded engine and mounting block, so as to be able to mount the new engine, carved from sprue, on struts according to photos, and then rig with stretched sprue. The markings came from the excellent decal sheet from Pitroad. There is a small piece of decking missing between the hangar and funnel deck port and starboard, and I let this in using thin styrene sheet. The overhang on the bridge has a large triangular, pierced supporting gusset on each side, which I made from brass and sprue. A dedicated photo-etched piece here would have eliminated some of the fiddling.

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At this early stage I applied the complex camouflage scheme. I only hand-paint, never having had the patience to fiddle about with an airbrush. Masking the pattern of peculiar shapes and curves on these tricky surfaces would have, I suspect, led me to build a pre-war variant. Despite checking, re-checking, over-painting and re-re-re-checking the camouflage scheme with a variety of photos, I can still see discrepancies that are visible in some photos of the real ship and not others. I followed broadly the drawings in the instructions, verifying and correcting according to photos. The decks at some stage with this colour scheme seem to have carried a partial camouflage layout. However, no aerial views seem to exist that might verify this 100% in pattern or colours. There are photos existing which appear to show the camouflage scheme creeping onto the deck. I was tempted to portray this but felt that it was just too much stabbing in the dark!

It was shortly hereafter that I made my first mistake, namely, cutting away the bracing supports that were cast-on at the centre forward edge of the breakwater, believing that I could make them even thinner and sharper. A subsequent examination of photos show these to have been a T-section, with the flat of the T showing forward. Well, mine are thinner, but are they crisper? My conclusion: leave them well enough alone! I was fortunate at this stage in acquiring a set of Clipper 15" brass gun barrels from e-bay. While there was nothing inherently wrong with the resin barrels, 'twas merely a coincidence. It did, however, save the drilling out of the muzzles.

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Construction followed broadly the sequence in the instructions. I hollowed the insides of the funnels out with a burr-headed motor tool. Photos of Renown's funnels often show the numerous facets of the individual plating runs. I wished to imply the presence of these, so I pared away a large number of 'flats' with a Stanley blade, later highlighting them with pencil. The cast-on platforms I thinned down from underneath, adding supporting triangular gussets fabricated from paper. The searchlight davits I made of fuse wire, and the photo-etch funnel sirens had their pipes made from sprue. I also installed the internal steam pipes in the forward funnel according to plans and photos. The cast Oerlikon tubs had the boxes added as seen in drawings; I thinned down the wall thickness by paring away with a knife blade from the inside face.

Careful checking of photos allowed me to place the doors so as not to obstruct the stairs/ladders and companionways; these were fashioned in part from the supplied items supplemented by others from my scrap box for even more finesse. The various ventilator outlet blocks had some very fine photo-etch meshing added. It's obviously not in scale, but does add a pleasing effect of texture. The divisions between were added from handrail stanchions from a 1:350 PE set. Despite the casting being festooned with mushroom vents etc., in the area aft of the bridge and the hangar I added yet more deck hatches and some more vents. Cable reels were added according to the plans in a variety of locations.





Dimensions and Armaments in 1942

LOA 794 ft, 6 x 15" in three twin turrets
Beam 90 ft, 20 x 4.5" HA/LA MkI twins
Displacement 36,080 tons full load 3 x 8 barrel AA pom-poms
Top speed 29.5 knots 4 x 0.5 Vickers quad MG mounts
Crew 1.200 Officers and men 8 x single 20mm Oerlikons

One of the high points of the kit in my view are the exquisite 4.5" HA turrets. Liberally littered with detail, they capture the shape of the gun mount very well. The hardest part was to obtain a sharp demarcation line between the dark tops and the sloping camouflaged sides. After various failures, a pencil run around the edge of the bevel gave a perfect line. The kit supplies four identical directors, which when fitted with Yagi aerials would be correct for early 1943. As it transpired...fortune smiled upon me. Fate propelled one of the kit items from the tips of my tweezers into regions unknown, i.e. lost! Upon examining the shape more carefully now and checking photos it became evident to me that in early 1942 the tubs had the framed canvas covers and no yagi's, so the opportunity presented itself to scratch-build two identical items with the covers in place!

I chose for this model to build the 8-barrrel pom-poms from the supplied photo-etch sets, but added depth to the undersides of the ammo trays with strips of Evergreen strip. Afterwards I noticed this was also suggested in the instructions. The assembly of these fine items is always a bit of an adventure but they add to the delicacy of the finished model. The fine 0.5" Vickers mounts unfortunately all but disappear from view in the camouflage scheme. The aft set adjacent to the aft range-finder need to have their tubs decked, raised and railed, and there is a disparity between the PM and R/R drawings here. My decision was supported by photos in Northcott's Ensign 8, a very useful but sadly now rare and expensive booklet. The ships boat complement as supplied varied from the fit in the R/R drawings which I chose for my model, so I substituted the open boat for an additional 45' fast motorboat from the WEM Pro 700 series spares box. Some photos showed these with canvas covers draped over them, but I felt that this would look wrong in a small scale model. The photo-etch fret contains nice separate thwarts for all the boats. The 42' launch was hollowed out and I inserted fine brass fret-strip thwarts. Carley float positions seem to vary from month to month, when viewing photos, and I affixed additional rafts on the aft superstructure as well as on the hangar roof under the 45' boats. The very slight angling out of true of the double set on the forward barbette starboard side is correct according to the photo I worked from.

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The photo-etch crane-jibs were a delight. The mounting girder structure neatly dropped over the resin motors and winding gears to give a good sense of depth. I chose, however, to rig them with sprue in my usual manner, and added some old Gold Medal Models pulley wheels. I affixed the railings as the build progressed, using some of the WEM-supplied items as well as GMM Gold-plus-ultrafine. All rails were coloured with a black indelible permanent marker first, then affixed to the model. Later dry-brushing stanchions only or the whole rail gives, in my view, a very light and airy effect without the chunkiness of paint build-up. I made the awning supporting frame-work atop the upper bridge from single bar GMM handrail and stretched sprue.

The masts were constructed as usual from fine metal tubing, using the foremast starfish from the excellent photo-etch option, although the alternate resin item could have been used. The instructions suggest using the resin juncture for the top of the tripod, which is a good idea. However, I wanted the supporting triangles for the topmast to be hollow, so made these as well as the lower mast braces from paper, which after installation were infused with CA, giving total adhesion as well structural integrity. The radar lantern appeared to be a very good shape, but a little sparse in surface texture. I remedied this with a little photo-etch applied. One point of note: on the mainmast starfish there are some fine photo-etch supporting gussets supplied, for which both the R/R and the PM drawings are misleading. Photos show these to be struts; I made these very simply using sprue. I chose to add the railings and struts for the upper platforms separately as this allowed me to work on the struts and the remainder of the ship without crushing the vulnerable mast-tops.

I furnished the foredeck with 52 link-per-inch chain , after drilling out the hawsepipes. Check-chains were made from photo-etch chain. The stunning bracing strips on the foredeck were lightly dry-brushed with a very crisp demarcation resulting. I faced the lack of these on my Repulse model, where I had to resort to a paint effect. I also added an additional mushroom vent. I used the supplied photo-etch binocular mounts, adding the Aldis signaling lamps made from solder strip, along with many other small ladders and bits and pieces, none of which on their own are really visible, but add to the total overall look of intricacy of the finished model.

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I painted the model using, in the main, WEM Colourcoats applied by brush, weathering and washing using watercolour with a dash of liquid soap to break up surface tension. All rigging was stretched sprue, finished off lastly with the fine photo-etch aerials from the fret. The cross-members of which were made of stretched sprue. At an early stage I had mounted the ship onto a light groundswell made of artist's watercolour paper over timber scraps. This allowed me to handle the model during construction without damaging the hull sides.

Overall this is an excellent model kit, and without any modifications at all, it would build up very nicely out of the box. The White Ensign kit captures the graceful and purposeful lines of HMS RENOWN very well. I am tempted to someday build her again in either immediate pre-war or a late-war configuration in a more plain colour scheme. I feel that much of the elegant lines and detail of the original ship and of this model kit are lost and disguised by, and within, the multi-coloured paint-work. I suppose this must bear witness to the efficiency and purpose of the camouflage!

References:

Maurice Northcott Ensign 8 Renown and Repulse
Alan Raven and John Roberts British Battleships of World War 2
Profile Morskie HMS Renown
Alan Raven Warship Perspectives Camouflage Volume 1
and numerous photos from a wide variety of book and net sources
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