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Tom Cleaver
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December 17: 73rd Anniversary of the Battle of the River Plate

December 17, 2012 · in Ships · · 5 · 2.2K

's Admiral , done as she looked at the Battle of the River Plate, December 17, 1939.

I remember seeing "Death In The South Atlantic", the US title for "Battle of the River Plate" in about 1957-58. Saw it in its restored version on Turner Classic Movies last year (which means you can get a DVD of the restored version at the Turner Movie Store). HMS Achilles (by then sold to another country) plays herself in the movie. HMS Norfolk plays HMS Exeter, and USS Salem plays the Graf Spee. The last movie made that does an historically and technically-accurate recreation of a big-gun sea battle. An unrecognizeable Peter Finch in his first film role plays Kapitaen Hans Langsdorff. Definitely a movie for ship buffs. (They had to have the Germans pretend to be an "American ship" because the USN would not allow any of the crew of USS Salem to be seen in German "coal scuttles.")

I like Trumpeter's kit better than Academy's. It has better small detail to my eye.

Reader reactions:

2 additional images. Click to enlarge.

5 responses

  1. Beautiful ship model Tom! And, thanks for all the history too.

  2. This brings back memories. Battle of the River Plate happened to be the first naval battle I learned about in detail as a teenager. I've been convinced since that it was some kind of a David vs. Goliath struggle, with Graf Spee playing the Goliath part, against HMS Ajax, Achilles and Exeter as "Davids". The attached period pictures of Graf Spee gave an impression of her being a mighty battleship.

    Looking at your model I realize how small these "pocket" battleships really were. So really, who played the Goliath part again?

    Very nice model. You seem to do photoetched railings but no rigging?

    • kitties don't get their claws in photoetch railings. πŸ™‚

      Not that they go in the shelves, but you never know when they might change their mind for some reason, being kitties.

      Graf Spee out-ranged the British ships, so could stand off and fire at them without them getting back. One lucky hit from Exeter sealed her fate - a hit in the processing plant that mixed the diesel fuel with seawater to extend her range. With that out of action, she couldn't have gone 300 miles before running out of fuel she could use. Once she was in Montevideo, she was never coming back out.

  3. Nice model of Graf Spee.

    You are correct about Trumpeter's version having finer detail on the small parts. Academy's guns are way out of scale -- 11" guns look great for Yamato, and the 20mm look like 6"guns! Needless to say I replaced all of these and others with parts from Dragon's Scharhorst.

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