The following is one of over 5,000 great modeling articles created through iModeler.

Aircraft Carrier R81 “Hr.Ms. Karel Doorman” Royal Netherlands Navy, Toulon 1967

July 21, 2015 in Diorama


Short History:
Type: Light Fleet Carrier.
Admiralty Job Number J3697 / Yard Number 1126
She was laid down on 3 December 1942, by the yard Cammel Laird & Co Ltd. Birkenhead.
Completed: 17 January 1945
Service Record:
Royal Navy 17 May 1945 – 28 May 1948
Named “HMS Venerable”.
March 1945-March 1947: British Pacific Fleet (BPF). Liberation of Hong Kong, repatriating thousands of former prisoners, soldiers and equipment, between Fremantle, Bombay, Batavia and Singapore. Sold to the Dutch Government in 1948.
Royal Netherlands Navy 28 May 1948 – 8 October 1968
Named “Hr.Ms. Karel Doorman”
1955-1958 extensive modernization, at Wilton-Feijenoord Shipyard in Holland. During this time she was fitted with a new steam catapult, an angled deck, and mirror landing sight, new island, massive mast and funnel, also ultra modern radar equipment, air search, height search, target acquisition, navigation and carrier controlled approach radar system. These were all delivered by the famous electronic company Holland Signaal. (Now Thales)
General information after major refit:
Length: 214 meter. – Width: 34.80 meter. – Draft: 7.30 meter. – Displacement: 13800 ton.
Two engine rooms, producing 40.000 HP- 2 screws – 1 rudder, – Max.speed 24.5 knots
Armament: 10x 40 mm Bofors AA. – Crew: 1500 including air group.

Air Group 1958-1962 Grumman Avengers, Hawker Siddely Sea Hawk-Sikorsky HO4-S3 (S55)
Air group 1962-1968 Grumman S-2A Tracker- Sikorsky HSS-1N Seabat
With only anti-submarine Trackers and Helicopters, the carrier became a Carrier Vessel Submarines (CVS).
The carrier took part in many NATO exercises and was mainly operational in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Caribbean waters.
One exception was a “Show the Flag“ world deployment in 1960, lasting 7 months.
In 1968, she was severely damaged by a major fire in the engine room and subsequently sold to Argentina.

“ARA 25 de Mayo”
In service: 1 September 1969.
That same year refit took place at the Wilton Feijenoord Shipyard. On her maiden trip to Argentina, the ship had her first encounter with the prototype of the British Sea Harrier, landing on her deck for a possible (ordering) interest from the Argentine Navy Officials.
During the Falkland War (1982) the carrier was flagship of Carrier Task Force (CTF 79 /01-03 may 1982) and was indeed ordered by the Naval High Command to attack the British carrier battle group, after this was detected by Grumman Trackers, operating from the carrier. Due to the fact, that a night strike was not possible by the A-4Q Skyhawk, and knowing to be detected, the British battle group moved to the east and out of range from the Argentines.
In th year 1999/2000 the carrier was towed to Alang (India) to be scrapped.

The model, scale 1/400
Combination of Heller (Arromanches) plastic kit, enhanced with a resin, etch and decal set by The enhancement set makes it possible to construct the carrier after the major refit. (Angled deck, new island, and new radar suite.)
This multimedia kit needs a lot of TLC, especially connecting the resin to the plastic over large areas. A large etch set with radars, main mast, propellers, rotor blades, tail rotors, everything is included. Basically, the same items that were used during the real major refit
Length in centimeter 56 / Width in centimeters 8+.

The model is built full hull and placed in a wooden casing. This casing is then filled with molding powder and left alone for shrinking. After the water is dampened out of the powder, the difference (3mm) is then filled with liquitex gel and sculptured with a little spoon. This gel hardens out after 24 hours. Then it is studying the water pictures, to make the final choice on the colors.

The Diorama dated 03 November 1967:
In October 1967, the Dutch Navy concentrated a Task Force that included eleven ships, including the carrier, destroyers, frigates, submarines, tanker and Fleet Air Arm assets.
On the 3rd of November, the Karel Doorman entered the Naval Base of Toulon.
By arrival, two French Naval Tugboats are assisting the carrier to its anchorage. The carriers’ air group, consisting out of Squadron 4 and 8, are in full force (show the flag) ranged on the deck.
Starboard and Port anchor are both “presented” and ready to fall in case of emergency or during the coming anchoring procedure.
Lockheed Neptune (SP-2H/214) from Squadron 320 is making a low fly-past over the rear deck of the carrier.
(The Neptune is connected to the inside of the dustcover )

Kit and Accessories:
The complete kit is from
Grumman Trackers are from Larsenal (
French naval harbor tugs (Acharné Class)are from Larsenal
Winches, watertight doors, firefighting reels, from Larsenal
Crew is from North Star, via Larsenal
Lockheed Neptune is from Larsenal
Railing is from Tauro (
Scratch built.

British Aircraft Carriers by David Hobbs
The Colossus-Class Aircraft carriers 1944-1972 by Neil Mccart
Wings of the Malvinas by Santiago Rivas
Hr.Ms. Karel Doorman by Bert Brand
Verguisd en geprezen by LTZ1 Willem geneste.
Op de grens van zee en lucht (Lockheed Neptune F.C. Van Oosten

Website for actual visit:

12 additional images. Click to enlarge

People who liked this article:
Profile photo of Richard McstayRichard McstayGuestProfile photo of Merrill AndersonMerrill AndersonProfile photo of hammermrhammermrProfile photo of Jack MuganJack Mugan

18 responses to Aircraft Carrier R81 “Hr.Ms. Karel Doorman” Royal Netherlands Navy, Toulon 1967

  1. Beautifully done. I wish I had the space to do a project like this.

  2. A pristine bit of ship modelling, Dirk. Great photos, too.

  3. It’s easy to see you put your body and soul into this build, sir…a true modeling masterpiece. A most excellent rendition of the subject at hand. Very well executed and detailed. The fly-over is a very nice touch. You must have the patience of Job and the eyes of an eagle. Well done indeed, my friend.

  4. Very nicely built Dirk.
    A hell of a lot went into this build and it is worth it.
    Well done mate.
    A contender maybe?

  5. That is REALLY nice, Dirk, the detail is superb. Interesting history too.

  6. Exceptional work here, it’s a beauty! Such a contrast to the usual naval diorama subjects,colors, and applications. Great documentation on the build and the ship’s history.
    An observation: as this is a diorama, depicting the vessel in it’s natural state, did you consider weathering any portion of the model, (flight deck)? Personally, most builders go overboard (no pun intended) when it comes to ship models “realistic” appearence. But a bit of “wear and tear” at certain areas of the ship seems appropriate in a diorama setting (as opposed to weathering a full hull ship on a display base).

    I look forward to your next ship model displayed on these pages!

  7. I’m not a ship-builder, but what an incredible project to tackle as a modeler! Congratulations on excellent execution of a unique project. Very nice!!

  8. excellent dio here never seen a dio like this before

  9. Really nice – lots of hard work paid off beautifully.

  10. That is rather impressive Dirk, I am in awe of those like you who can bring such small scale models to life like this. I would like to do something like this one day with and Australian carrier!

  11. Brilliant, Dirk, your hard work and research have really paid off.

  12. Dirk, one of, if not the best, carriers I’ve seen. And all the lovely little touches, like the overflying Neptune, and the tugs, and the figures! Makes you wonder where to look next!
    Just marvelous!

  13. Beautiful! I’m too young but my father and grandfather loved visiting this ship in the Netherlands whenever possible. Now I can understand their urge!
    I built the Arromanches maybe 10 years ago and didn’t like that kit: this one looks way better!


  14. That looks great Dirk, lots going on to look at!

  15. i somehow missed this karl…just

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.