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Caio Bella! Italian cruiser Gorizia in 1:400.

February 1, 2015 in Ships

Every educated person knows, that the main problem with the plastic model industry is, that there are so few kits of italian cruisers from WWII.;-)
The only injection moulded ones I know of are Tauro’s kits in 1:400 of the four cruisers of the Zara class.

I built the Pola in 2001, I think, and she was the last model that I painted with a brush. However, since the italian cruisers of WWII are the most beautiful ships ever built, it was necessary to build the Gorizia too. All the more since she wore that kool italian splint camouflage.

The quality of those old Tauro kits is a bit below old Heller ship kits, so quite a bit of scratchbuilding was required to get the Gorizia up to a decent standard. I started by replacing the main deck with plastic sheet. For the parts that were planked, I used scribed sheet.
The foredecks of italian ships were painted in red and white diagonal strips for aerial recognition purposes. Masking those strips over a foredeck studded with hatches, pollards, air intakes and a catapult, was above my abilities, so I cut away most of its surface detail and sanded it smooth.

Building the bridge, with its platforms in five levels and a range finder on top, was a major challenge. The range finder was supported by four struts that go through all the five bridge decks. The struts are all inclined which makes it a bit harder to get everything aligned. Since the bridge, like the rest of the ship, was painted in a splint camouflage, I couldn’t glue it together into one big subassembly, but had to build it in five small subassemblies that could be painted and masked.
I spent three weeks adjusting those subassemblies, to make them stand square and aligned on top of one another. Later, when I built them all together, after having painted them, I had to adjust them even further, before I was happy with the result.
It’s one of the most frustrating modelling experiences I’ve had.

As usual I scratchbuilt the mainmast, using wooden jigs to get the yardarms at right angles to the mast. Adjusting the platforms to fit between the mainmast and the tripod struts was almost as tricky as building the bridge.

I painted the wooden decks, by masking individual planks and then painting them in four different shades of wood colour, the classic “Plank on Plank” method.

The major painting challenge was to paint red and white stripes on the foredeck. It’s astonishing how much grey and brown you have to mix into the white, before it starts to look dirty.
Toning the red paint to look bleached took some trial and error. The main lesson learned, was not to mix any white into the red. Then you get pink and your ship looks like a Barbie doll.
The first attempt to paint the foredeck failed, since I couldn’t get the stripes straight over the hangar hatches. I removed them, washed the paint away and did the whole thing over again, this time with a satisfactory result.

After the decks were painted I glued scratch built hatches, pollards, and air intakes in place, and built catapult from 0,25mm strip.

I asked my brother, who is a mechanical engineer, to turn the barrels for the main artillery for me. When he had made them, I asked him what it would cost.
“You don’t want to know”, he said and gave me the barrels.

The parts for the twin 20mm guns looked terrible, so I built my own from styrene bits and piano wire.
As usual, the ships boats required some work to look presentable.

The Gorizia was my last model in 1:400 and at the time I thought it would be my last major conversion job.
I was wrong about the latter. Since then Hobbyboss has issued the POLA in 1:350. Its the old Tauro kit, that they scaled up from 1:400.
That means that all the problems with the kit have been enlarged by one eighth. Normally I would avoid such a kit like the plague, but this is an italian cruiser and therefore she has to be built.
Actually I’m a little turned on by the challenge. We never learn, do we?…

Ciao Bella!

33 additional images. Click to enlarge

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23 responses to Caio Bella! Italian cruiser Gorizia in 1:400.

  1. Another fine ship Ulf, you have the art right off mate.
    Well done mate.

  2. Wow, the Sunday evening stunner comes from Ulf. Never seen a better build italian cruiser. Well done !
    And yes its a shame, that there are no really good kits out from these ships.
    The italian and the french navy got some of the most beautiful “Washington Cruisers” on their inventory. Good luck with the Hobby Boss kit. You will have on this kit much “space” to unfold your talents 😉

  3. I have made the “the Italian one looks best” experience many times before.
    Shoes, motorbikes, trains, furniture … to name just a few. It was new to me that the rule applies to battle ships too but yes, it’s plain to see.

  4. You’ve definitely been (or should be) named the “Master Shipbuilder” of iModeler. Amazing craftsmanship, sir….simply stunning work.

    • Thank you Craig. I love titles.
      I think however, that “Master Shipbuilder” lacks the appropriate irony. It’s sounds way too serious.
      The title given to me by the Lords of the Admiralty is “Armchair Admiral of the Ten Seas”. At first it was just “Armchair Admiral” but after I had finished some Battleship, I got promoted to “Armchair Admiral of the Seven Seas”. Since then I’ve been promoted with one “Sea” for every battleship I’ve finished.
      I hope that I will one day be promoted to “Über Armchair Admiral of the Oceans”……

  5. Good to see a little dry sense of humour, and equally enjoyable to see another of your masterpieces, and I’m a fan of Italian design as well. Maybe we could have an “Italian” themed group build sometime.

  6. Very nice. Like the striking colours. 🙂

  7. Beautifulas usual. Another winner. The white and red stripes were surely for recognition purpose.
    Probablyserved as a nice aiming point for divebombers.

    • Yes, the red and white stripes on the foredeck were for air recognition purposes. At the start of the war the italian ships had their foredecks painted white. During the Battle of Punta Stilo (Also called Battle of Calabria I believe) they were bombed by their own airforce. From then on red stripes were painted on to their foredecks, and they were consequently less often bombed by their own people.

  8. Fantastic looking ship! Very stylish!
    If Italian ships are anything like their bikes, they will look the part and cost a lot, but won’t be quite as fast or reliable as the Japanese ones!
    That’s probably going to start an argument! Great build Ulf, and a great article!

    • The Italian ships were fast, but faster on paper than in reality. The speed trials were often conducted before the ships were finished, sometimes even before the main gun turrets were fitted, which led to some impressive, but unrealistic top speeds. The reason for this practice was that the shipyards received bonus bay for every knot with which they surpassed the contracted speed.
      This emphasis on speed led to some weakly built ships, a problem they had in common with many japanese ships.
      Another problem they had in common with the japanese, was that they were way behind, when it came to radar.
      The japanese gunnery was better than the italian though. The italians salvoes tended to spread..
      On the other hand, the british, before they had radar directed fire, had problems with their range finding. So, in the early battles between the italian and the british navy, neither side registered many hits.

  9. Superb build of a very attractive warship. Excellent!

  10. Simply outstanding. The wooden deck aft appear to be strips of wood, excellent painting. I can’t agree they were the best looking ship’s of WWII but they were very close.

    • Thank you Mike,
      Let’s start a fierce and ruthless argument about which were the best looking ships of WWII.
      Which ones are your favourites?

      • For me there is only one: YAMATO !!!

      • The battle cruiser USS ALASKA. It had the fine lines similar to the IOWA class battleships. Also the heavy cruisers of the Japanese navy, like the CHOKAI were impressive looking vessels.

        • I agree, the USS Alaska was a very elegant ship. She is actually one of the few ships that I think can compete with the italian ones and with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

          The Takao class cruisers have another type of quality I think. Fascinating with their S-shaped sheer lines and their oversized upper structures on their slender hulls. The Yamato has a similar attraction, but to me, it’s not elegance. It’s another kind of attraction.

          • Hi Ulf
            Well, we agree what a “pretty looking” ship is! The Italian ships were as you say very elegant in their lines. A big plus (especially in your model) was the painting scheme, it really enhances the ship’s over all appearence.

          • I just got some good news.
            Trumpeter will issue the ships of the Alaska class in 1:350 in 2016. I’ll definitely buy myself one of them as soon as I can lay my hands on one,

  11. Fine detailing and workmanship, Ulf. Not knowing the short comings of one plastic ship model to the next, I think your additional work here provides a worthwhile guide to improving a model generally and certainly to ships per se.

  12. Well Admiral that is a fine looking ship indeed. It’s just a hobby, right?

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