Imperial Chinese Turret Ship “DING YUEN”
The “DING YUEN” (or Tingyuan) had a curious place in naval history. Built in Germany and equipped with state of the art Krupp guns, it served as the Imperial fleet’s flagship. It’s design was part of the warship evolution of the late 1800’s, i.e., heavy caliber naval guns, but limited armor protection. At the time naval designers were limiting steel armor to the ships vitals such as the steam plant that propelled the ship and the main gun magazines and associated spaces. (Hence the term “turret” or “citidel” ship).This kept the vessel light weight and offered a top speed of 16 knots, pretty fast for a battleship of the 1880’s. When delivered to China it (and it’s sister ship) were the most powerful warships in the Far East. When war with Japan broke out the Ding Yuen and the Imperial Fleet gave a good account of themselves in battle. Unfortunately the Japanese had a larger number of ships and had very disiplined crews. The Chinese, on the other hand, were equipped with out dated ammunition that wouldn’t fire and were poorly trained. Still the Ding Yuen survived the battle but was scuttled to escape capture. Today the Chinese government had a replica of the ship built as a naval museum and is open to visitors.
The model was basically a piece of junk, poor molding, little detail, and poor fit. (But it came with a swell electric motor). As I paid $4.00 for it, I was close to pitiching it in the trash but I have a fondness for unusual ship designs. And I like a challenge. So I threw out pretty much the entire kit and went to work on improving this model. I built new masts, guns, added a wooden deck, photoetch parts from the scrap box, new deck vents, anchor pockets and chain, and small boats among other changes. I painted it in a peacetime scheme (In war time the ship was gray) and mounted it on a wood base.
When completed I was pleased with the results, but it was a month long project to correct all the shortcomings. Still, the model represents a little known period of ship development and has a unique place in my ship collection.
12 additional images. Click to enlarge.