Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Getting the Steam Up: Part 2 Predreadnoughts

Rescaled plan of the HMS London...the original scan from Janes Fighting Ships 1905-6 is on the upper left, the rescaled version is on the right.
 Much-inspired by some great links sent to me after my recent post on some homemade pre-dreadnoughts I have moved into a "Homemade pre-dreadnoughts Mark II" phase. In particular, I am enjoying the look of the really cool pre-dreadnoughts on the "Old Admirals" blog, and Bob Cordery's stylized wooden predreadnoughts. I decided my small scale pre-dreads were a bit too small and I was taken with the idea that the ships could be larger and carry a bit more detail while remaining entirely scratchbuilt from inexpensive materials and, most importantly, quickly built.
SMS Brandenburg
 My approach was to take original scans from a copy of Janes Fighting Ships 1905-6 that I recently got on ebay (for a really great price) and manipulate the scanned image to give me a new template on which to base the hull shape. I wanted a more abstract look to the models, and just a bit stylized so I settled on a 1.5 inch width by about a 5 inch length to make my battleships. This size would work with 4" or 5" hexes and give me the look and the size that would allow some more complex detailing on the models. Most importantly I could use round toothpicks and readily available wood shapes for turrets and gun barrels and everything would still look believable to the eye. So the scanned image was resized in Adobe "InDesign" to get the shape that I was looking for...so shorter length and wider beam was the watchword.
HMS London
 The result is pretty satisfying, even if they are not true scale models, they are fairly faithful to the general look of the historical ship (which is what my earlier efforts had missing). They have a nice heft and plenty of room for deck details.
HMS London in it's raw state...still working on the masts.
 I used balsa for the main hull and wood toothpicks for the gun barrels. Some plastic tube and metal pins make up the rest...all really cheap available materials.
SMS Brandenburg..the models are very raw at this point...sanding and priming will hopefully take care of the imperfections.

First coat of acrylic gesso to seal and give a good primer coat to cover imperfections in the balsa hull

the London and the Brandenburg...a first pass at a new fleet of pre-dreadnoughts

Finally a few pics from the internet to make the visual comparisons easier...
SMS Brandenburg during the late 1800s...she was refitted in WWI so some of the barbettes were no longer visible in later pics. She was part of the German fleet during the Boxer Rebellion

The "business end" of the Brandenburg
I'm finding the wealth of info on the web to be a scratchbuilders dream...that spherical turret on the Brandenburg is way-cool and not just a little "steampunk" as well!


Steven Page said...

Wow! I'm really impressed with your Brandenburg. That one just doesn't want to look "right" when I build her. I think you nailed the proper proportions! I have kicked myself a few times for NOT using toothpicks for secondary armament. You chose wisely!

I can't wait to see some finished pictures, especially when you get a full squadron ready.

littlejohn said...

Thanks Steven, All this is really new to me and even as I write, I realize I got some of the details on the Brandenburg wrong in that the port and starboard secondary batteries are incorrectly modeled...but in the spirit of "old school" gaming I'm going to overlook the mistake until the next model! There are so many naval modeling websites that it is really sometimes bewildering for a guy trying to simply get a good game on the table before the kids mess it up...! I'll be posting the finished pics this weekend so please stay tuned...your blog is a real inspiration!

tradgardmastare said...

What splendid work.I am really looking forward to seeing how this proceeds.I am so tempted to have a little go myself...

tradgardmastare said...

What splendid work.I am really looking forward to seeing how this proceeds.I am so tempted to have a little go myself...

David Crook said...

Hi Littlejohn,

Absolutely love them! I am especially fond of the Brandenburg as the Turks gained a pair of them and I always thought they were a great looking ship. I think we often fall into the trap of using scale models rather than models for our games and so the 'cartoon' approach used by yourself, Bob Cordery and Steve Page (and even yours truly on occasion!) is a far better option - simply because the model will be more robust and better suited to the table top!

Lovely work and I cant wait to see them painted - and in action!

All the best,


tidders said...

neat scratchbuilding

-- Allan

Peter Douglas said...


Fantastic looking ships!! I can't wait to see the end product.


Bluebear Jeff said...

Both look wonderful, sir. I really like them.

On a disappointing note, both players want to continue in "The Alpian Wars" so there isn't a spot for you yet . . . but who knows, I will certainly keep you in mind.

I do really like the look of these ships and look forward to seeing more.

-- Jeff

Corporal_Trim said...

Very nice !! Love what you did with the Brandenburg, very distinctive ships.

As one who's also done a bit of pre-dreadnought scratch building, I think you've done a great job hitting the sweet spot between realism and toy warships.

I also look forward to seeing them in their warpaint.


Archduke Piccolo said...

These are mighty wee models! Fantastic stuff. I think I feel another project coming on...

Anonymous said...

You didn't hyphenate the post title and it keeps making me think Pred-noughts. As in ships designed and built to hunt dreadnoughts.

Tony said...

Great models - full of character.

I also think your Blue Hex (with wooden Islands) terrain looks awesome.