1/350 Roma by Trumpeter
There are some moments in human history characterized by the drama of a noble vessel going down in horrible disaster. Such was Titanic. Such was Hindenberg. Fewer folks know the story of Roma.
She was the last of her class to be completed by Italy in World War II. She and her stablemates were considered the strongest vessels of any combatant in the Mediterranean, and was admired for her strength and beauty. Sadly Roma was to be known not for combat with the British or American navies, but rather with her erstwhile ally, Germany.
Although her mighty 15″ guns were considered the equal to the allies 16″ guns, they were destined never to fire in anger. Following Italy’s surrender, Roma was part of the Italian fleet which was secretly sailing to surrender to the British at Malta. The Luftwaffe intervened and located the fleet in transit and attacked with the new Fritz X guided bomb. These early smart weapons were guided by a special operator on the Do-217k mothership thru a thin wire which spooled out as it descended. Roma was struck by not one, but two, of these smart bombs– penetrating her deck armor near the forward main batteries.. She stayed afloat for 13 minutes as fires burned out of control. As her list increased, the fires found her powder room and she went up in a massive fireball seen for nearly 100 miles.
However, in testament to her toughness, she struggled against destiny long enough for about half her crew to abandon ship. Other ships with such grievous innjury were known for going down with nearly all hands (eg Beatty’s battle cruisers at Jutland, HMS Hood, USS Arizona.)
Trumpeter has recently released this kit and it is a good one. The lines of this very attractive vessel appear spot on. The Italians were apparently more concerned with friendly fire than enemy attack, so they barber-poled their decks to ward off le Duce’s torpedo bombers. Her unique arrangement of the after turret sitting a full deck higher than usual allowed a clear fantail for aircraft operations. (A special note: I believe that is the longest trainable catapult ever mounted. Note also, a land based Re-2000 is on the board. She carried two, which of course she could never recover at sea. The fighters simply landed at a nearby airfield and rejoined their ship in port.)
My model is out of the box when you include Trumpeter’s purpose made PE set of rails, barrels and props. Weathering is a dark earth acrylic wash. Some of my fellow ship builders have remarked that the under hull should have been green, but my sources say that she was freshly repainted in gloss red just before her fateful final voyage.
The base is a simple plaque I picked up at Hobby Lobby, with wooden candlestick holders sprayed with gold plate from a rattlecan.
Roma has apparently not been a hot seller for Trumpeter. I do not understand why. It is an excellent kit, with great fit and above average detail. It is a uniquely attractive battleship, which I think deserves more attention from the modeling community.
Postscript: Unlike US and Japanese vessels which sprouted AA guns like porcupine quills, the Italians apparently planned on regattas between missions. Roma has 23 ships boats of all shapes and sizes, plus those huge yellow and red rafts! She is colorful to say the least.
10 additional images. Click to enlarge.