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Flower Class Corvette, Platinum Edition (11 posts)

  • This is Revell’s 1/72 re-boxing of the old Matchbox kit, in this incarnation inclusive of a large photoetch fret and wood laminate decking, hence the ‘Platinum Edition’ tag.

    It’s big. Nearly 85 cm in length (a shade under a yard), the hull is in four unwieldy sections, with three base decks on which to build everything else. In the following photo, the hull is in place and decks attached. The pale looking foam that can be seen is just that: foam. The transverse hull strengtheners are useless – you may as well use strips of cardboard. To add strength and avoid any mishaps in the future, I used insulation foam, which comes in a can with a plastic tube applicator, and expands nearly three times its initial volume. The hull is now packed and secure.

    The etch is worthwhile, providing some nice detail. A plethora of etch is available aftermarket, from Great Little Ships, but will set you back about £350. That’s not happening here….

    Although a laminate overlay is provided in the kit, in fact only some of it is used.The plastic deck has moulded timber effect, but most of this has to be removed, to be painted instead. All Corvettes originally went to sea without decking, but the painted metal surfaces were found to be so slippery the decking had to be laid in whole or in part. It’s said that crew on Corvettes were soaked through most of the time, because the ship’s original design was based on whaling vessels.

    Much of the kit detail is basic, and although the etch provided adds or improves detailing in places, my intention is to scratch detail where possible and where sensible. I don’t see the point of spending hours on minute details that will be lost when placed adjacent other parts or simply painted.

    For example, the kit has four big staring sockets for the anchor/anchor chain. I created the hawsepipes by clipping off sections of the foam applicator (which happened to be the right diameter), and inserting them to mimic the inner pipe core.

    And here, a little etch from spares has been added to improve hinge detail.

    In other cases. it’s just a matter of Mark One Eyeball and hand skills, as here with two examples of ventilation funnels (There are several.). The kit’s thick sections have been thinned and tapered, with foil strips as reinforcing rings, and etch spares as strap locks, but that’s the idea.

    The kit is so large, and the sections so complex, particularly with cross-checking to see where detail can be improved, that I’m treating the build as individual mini-builds, otherwise I’d never know where I was exactly. I’m not sure how many photos I’ll post, as you can see I’ve used a big chunk of the available quota here, and have hardly got started. I may have to run a ‘Part 2’ article in due course, but I’ll see how it progresses and if anything in particular is worth recording.

    Here’s the aft bandstand with its 4″ Pom-Pom. I forgot to mention previously that as well as the etch fret, there’s a bag of a dozen or so turned brass pieces, for gun barrels, masts, etc.The fine replacement barrel and the etch armour shield can be seen clearly. I used plastic stock and etch spares to detail-up the area, with sights, training and elevation wheels, foot rests, and a star anti-slip tread made from thin strips of carbide glass paper.

    And here’s the completed engine housing ready for painting. It’s presently just placed loose on the aft deck to line up various items adjacent on the deck itself, and a couple of items are fixed with white glue only, as they have to be removed after the painting process to add ‘glass’ internally. This is a good example of the modular approach I’m taking to the build, where the painting to this unit can be virtually completed and sat aside, although the painting itself may present some problems with split colours. Note, the pyramid davit base has had lightening holes added, as would have been the case on the ship, to save weight and for drainage.

    (After originally posting this photo, I realised I hadn’t detailed the Vickers guns. I’ve since added sights, ammo feed boxes, and a few other things to improve these pieces.)

    Here’s the windlass. The kit parts are, again, oversimplified, and could use additional work on the gearing mechanisms, but as I mentioned previously I think the visible detail here is arguably sufficient when the item is painted and weathered. I have however added some cranking arms which gives the piece a more convincing look.

    The next area is the stack deck, a surprisingly busy area that took three days to complete. Apart from various vent funnels, boxes, railings, and mast, the stack itself is of interest. Here’s the kit part, with the high-level reinforcing band removed.

    I wanted to create the effect of riveted, stressed-skin sheets, and to do this I cut three sections of kitchen foil and glued them to the stack face. Where the sections met I had under-folded one edge to make a lapped-over join. I then applied Archers resin rivets, which are resin dots on clear decal paper. I think they’re a bit on the small side, but it looks better than what I started with. I ran a folded strip of foil as the upper reinforcing ring and riveted that as well.

    The stack cap isn’t secured. You might be able to see a couple of small holes just above the ring. These will have support cables/wires fed through after painting, and once the wires are tensioned and glued from within the stack, the cap can be popped in place.

    The kit, ladder, vents, etc., were then added, and the unit placed on the deck as shown here, another sub-assembly ready for painting.

    These are the Mk.II depth charge throwers – shapeless lumps of plastic, but luckily there are only four of these required. I had a play at refining the kit parts but there just wasn’t enough there to work with. After the extraneous bumps on the ‘barrel’ were removed there was nothing left!

    I scratched a replacement set, using the plastic tubes that are used to protect artists’ brushes. I had a lot of these kicking around as they come in handy from time to time, and a couple were the exact diameter of the kit tube. I added a little plastic stock and foil, with firing pins from old watch parts. These are clearly placed on the aft deck, and will be seen, and so I think worth the extra effort in detailing. I also added an armour-plate base to each one, from card stock, and raised them off the deck with two strips of rectangular strip.

    The kit’s charges are simply small cylinders with a sprig of plastic sticking out of the central area of the cylinder body. I removed the sprig and cleaned up the joins where the two unit halves met (16 of these units so a tedious process). To make a launch cradle to which the sprig would be attached, I cut foil into 10mm squares, actually I think tending more rectangular in shape as the ends had to wrap around the ends of the cylinders a little. These sheets were glued to the cylinder faces and a new sprig was attached centrally. The charge and the cradle will be painted in split colours and positioned around the aft deck, with four to be shown in place in the throwers.

    Four of the units are shown here, as examples.

    The kit’s two ‘whalers’ are rudimentary indeed. Each is made up of just two parts. Here, I’ve removed the moulded-in seats from the top frame in preparation for additional work.

    Plastic section in various profiles has improved the boats’ appearance. I’ve also added a basic rudder using plastic profile and etch from spares.

    I decided to carry on with a few smaller but still significant items before embarking on the bridge area. Here’s the 4-pounder that sits on the fore deck. The armour housing is the kit’s own etch parts with brass barrel, and a few detailing bits in plastic and spares etch.

    And here’s the fore deck bandstand with etch rail and anti-slip tread. The gun sits in the centre.

    These are the two machine guns that sit on either side of bridge area, I think .50 cal Lewis guns, but they might be .303s. The pedestals are kit pieces with a few ‘bolt heads’ added. The kit guns are dire but luckily the etch fret includes a complete double set replacement for both guns, with turned brass barrels as well. These are probably the nicest elements of the etch set overall.

    Having worked on the various sub-assemblies for around 180 hours, and adding as much as I can to the main structure without getting in the way of later finishes, I’m nearly at the point where I can begin the painting process.

    After priming, the main ship structure will have its five or six colours added, and the same with the sub-assemblies. I’ve had to do it this way to avoid difficulties with split colours in awkward places, the proximity of clear parts, and the requirement to add the laser-cut wooden decking where noted. It’s been a real ‘juggling act’.

    The following photos will give an idea of where the project stands now. I anticipate the painting will take a week. Although this thread hasn’t interested too many people, I still run with it as the postings help me focus on completing and recording the build. A project this size requires a lot of momentum to see it through, and the build itself is just the first part of the project. As I seem to have been sensible with the number of photos taken so far, I may have enough allocation remaining in this one thread to include the next phase, which is the creation of the seascape for the ship.

    A progress shot. The sub-units are now painted and in place with the main hull and decks. There are still a few items to complete – a couple of life boats, rafts and ladders – but three weeks from the start the construction phase is nearly at an end. When everything is in place I’ll run the rigging.

    Last update photo of the construction phase. The only remaining items are a couple of life preservers, which I’ll pop into place in the next day or so. The glue applicator is in shot, for scale.

    I should add, that the kit came with a paper sheet of alpha-numeric signal flags. I’ve decided to use the letter flags G-Q-C-J, as this was the ship’s call sign, and would have been used regularly. I’ll soak them in water and white glue to get a little fluttering action.

    The next job is the weathering stage, the principal effect of which will be the Deluxe Scenic Rust effects kit. It uses a two part mix that’s applied, allowed to dry, and an activator is then applied to create real rust. I found that mixing the iron powder with the binder is difficult, because the weight of the powder doesn’t lend itself to mixing with a liquid. I had to go back at the end of the process and sand off excess blobs of rust – a tedious and unexpected job. I then used a standard ‘rust’ pigment powder mixed with Vallejo Matt Varnish and water, and applied it adjacent to the Deluxe areas. It has a less pronounced look and served to blend in the harsh edges. After that, black, orange and green enamels, thinned with spirit, brought the effects out more across the model.

    Apart from the flags, this model is complete, at least it will be after I’ve given it a couple of light coats of Dullcote to pull everything together.

    Originally, I was considering a seascape base to see if I could get a realistic in-situ look for the ship. The issue is that it’s a big model and to create convincing rolling North Atlantic waves may be not be feasible in this scale. I think for now I’ll just stay with a standard rack base, and reconsider the seascape idea at a later time, partly due to the practicalities mentioned, and partly due to considerations of cost, and space.

    Tags: Archers, Deluxe, Matchbox, Revell

  • Hi, Rob,I was living in Southampton when the original Matchbox kit was released and it sold like hot cakes. There can’t be many 1/72 scale warships, and the Flower class look very attractive. I’ll be watching your progress with interest.

  • Thanks, George. I heard Revell discontinued this range, but they can still be found out and about. I bought this kit last weekend from a trader at a model show for £75. I tried to get him to come down a little but he said the kit should sell for £130 so that was that!

  • Rob, I was wondering if this was still available.
    I think you got a bargain, the prices just increase with every issue.
    Good luck with it, looks like you’ve taken its measure, and I look forward to seeing how she comes out.
    I suspect the original was really beat up at the best of times, so there’s lots of room for weathering.
    Must have been miserable serving aboard one in the North Atlantic in the Winter!
    Iron men and ships!

  • Thanks, Bernard. I have particular plans for weathering the ship, and plan also to set it in a seascape diorama.

    I should add that by way of background work, I found a few gallery examples of previously completed models, and one or two in-progress builds. Naturally, I’ve taken advantage of any good ideas I’ve come across, but noted as well that some of the builds are different versions than the one I have, presumably as either Matchbox or Revell has released the kit in different configurations over the years. All the examples seem to be several years old now, so maybe the kit isn’t so widely available now after all.

  • Rob…..can you tell me a little about the “laminate decking” provided in the kit…? It looks to be paper designed to be cut out and applied with maybe white glue or some such bonding material. Forgive my ignorance, but I’ve done little in the way of ships and never anything with wood decks. Thanks.

    And you’re right about it being a big kit….at least it’s easier with old eyeballs such as mine. 🙁

  • Hi Craig. The decking is laser cut wood, 2-3 mm in thickness. The deck outline, including blanks for capstans or similar, lifts away from a thin bit of backing paper, which is there to protect the self-adhesive reverse side of the wood, but the wood sections don’t always adhere and a little glue along the edges is sometimes necessary (At least, that was my recent experience with the Indianapolis and the I-58 sub, although a different supplier.), and I noticed too that this example is somewhat bowed. The wood can be painted or stained. I think the Corvettes had teak decking as applicable.

  • Oh, Ok….thanks for the info – I didn’t think of self-adhesive stuff (makes sense, though).

  • Well, this is over 2 years old, but this is still an interesting WIP report. Great work, Rob!

    Your Attention-to-Detail is outstanding. I find it interesting that it’s in 1/72nd scale.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Love to build one of these some time.

  • Nice work Rob!