Having done this, it struck me that others – such as some of my regular blog readers – might also like to read the text of this book. So as not to make this too long a blog entry – and so as not to exhaust possible interest before readers reach the end of the text – I have decided to publish each section of the book as a blog entry. I will include photographs where they appear in the original so that they will add to the enjoyment one gets when reading this book.
This photograph gives some idea how big the completed model is when next to 15mm-scale figures made by Essex Miniatures.
I think that I will take a short break from building model ships for a week or two (it pays not to get too jaded, and this can easily happen if one concentrates on only one project for too long!) … but if I look back over the progress I have made, I find that I went from this …
to this …
… in only a month.
Not bad, eh?
Assembly was very simple, and the parts fitted together very easily, with only a few dots of glue necessary to hold the pieces in place. From opening the box to finishing assembly took less than five minutes … which probably makes it the quickest model I have ever built!
If the rest of the Zvezda models are as simple to put together, I can see myself buying quite a few over the next few months!
As I had supplied all the merchant ships that made up the convoy, it was natural that I was given command of the convoy of twelve merchant ships and its close escort. The latter comprised a light cruiser (Dido-class), two destroyers (Tribal-class), and two minesweepers (one Algerine-class and one Bangor-class). The distant escort comprised a King George V-class battleship, HMS Renown (a battle cruiser), two County-class heavy cruisers, and four destroyers (including a US Navy vessel). The German attackers included two battleships (Tirpitz and Scharnhorst), a heavy cruiser (Admiral Hipper), and four destroyers.
The battle began with the German force sailing straight for the convoy, which immediately signalled the distant escort for support. This initially came in the form of the two County-class heavy cruisers, which were followed soon afterwards by the battleship, battle cruiser, and destroyers.
The British heavy cruisers engaged the Germans, and although several merchant ships were hit and sunk by gunfire from the German battleships and cruiser, the Germans eventually had to switch their fire to engage the British cruisers. The cruisers did not emerge from this confrontation unscathed. They had, however, achieved their purpose and given time for the British heavy units to join the battle, and the latter scored several telling hits on the German warships.
The British destroyers closed upon the enemy, and the cruiser and destroyers from the convoy’s close escort turned to engage the oncoming German destroyers. The convoy, escorted by the minesweepers, used this opportunity to turn away from the Germans.
The battle had – by now – degenerated into something of a melee, with both sides firing whole shoals of torpedoes at each other, mainly to force their opponents to turn away. Both sides also laid down smoke, and the Germans used it to attempt to disengage from the melee. This proved to be only partially successful, as one British destroyer managed to sneak close enough to the Tirpitz to hit her with torpedoes. This sealed the ship’s fate, and she sank soon afterwards. This marked the end of the battle.
The loss of Tirpitz ensured a British victory, although it was only achieved at a considerable cost in terms of ships and men. Almost half the convoy had been sunk as had one of the British cruisers and several of the destroyers. Of particular note was the shooting conducted by the British heavy units, which was both accurate and effective.
The Germans. (The arrow-shaped ‘Post-it’ notes were used as firing arrows throughout the battle.)
The British heavy units: A King George V-class battleship and HMS Renown.
The two British County-class heavy cruisers, one of which is under fire.
One of the British heavy cruisers fires back.
Two of the British destroyers. (One is actually a US Navy unit serving alongside the Royal Navy; the other ship is a British Tribal-class destroyer.)
The convoy comes under attack, and HMS Hermione (the heaviest unit of the convoy escort) is hit by three enemy shells. (The red upturned golf tees show the hits; the others show misses.)
HMS Hermione was hit by three German shells. They reduced her speed to 25 knots for the rest of the battle.
The German heavy units open fire again.
Admiral Hipper and three of the German destroyers move towards the convoy.
The British heavy units engage the enemy with very accurate long-range gunfire.
The convoy’s close escort turn to engage the oncoming Germans.
The German destroyers fire torpedoes (the tracks of the torpedoes are shown here by pipe-cleaners) whilst the heavy units turn away and make a break for home.
The Tirpitz is hit by four heavy shells fired by the British heavy units. She was subsequently hit by several torpedoes, and these slowed her so that she could be finished off later in the battle by further gunfire and torpedoes.
The design is based upon that of the battleships HMS Victoria …
… and HMS Sans Pareil, …
… with a just touch of the ram, HMS Rupert.
The model has the not yet been named officially, but I am tending towards calling her HMS Empress.
Making this model did not take a lot of time – or thought – but it reinforced the idea in my mind that trying to make realistic ship models that can be used on the tabletop with 15mm-scale figures is not an option for me. I am definitely going to stick to my ‘cartoon’ style of model in future.
In past years I have used the opportunity to pick up lots of information about the various cruise lines to use with my students, but as I am now retired my wife and I were able to enjoy looking on own behalf. We entered lots of prize draws and picked up quite a few promotional gifts (mainly tote bags and pens). We also spent some time talking to several cruise line representatives about special and/or unique cruises that we might wish to go on in the future.
In particular we were very taken with what Hebridean Island Cruises had on offer. They operate a very small cruise ship – Hebridean Princess – that only takes fifty passengers and has a crew of thirty eight. Its cruises last from four to ten nights and encompass the Western Isles as far as St Kilda as well as the Orkney and Shetland Isles. This is very different from the sort of cruise we have done before, and it covers an area that neither my wife nor I have every spent much time in.
We also looked at cruises to the Black Sea. I particularly want to visit Odessa and Sevastopol within the next three or four years, and it appears that several cruise lines do go there at various times during the year. The only problem is that most of them as fly-cruises … and my wife refuses to fly anymore.