Heller’s Gneisenau in 1:400
Hellers Gneisenau in 1:400 was my first build of a major ship, where I went out of my way to improve an old kit. The Gneisenau was also the first build, where I documented everything I did with a camera.
At this time, around 2004, Heller was the only manufacturer, that offered kits of all the major german WW2 ships in a large scale. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had always been my favourite ships on account of their sleek lines and balanced upper structures, so rolling up my sleeves and going to work on Hellers Gneisenau, was the only option open to me, if I wanted to build her in a large scale.
Since then of course, Trumpeter, Dragon and Revell have issued much better kits in 1:350 of the german capital ships of WW2, and I have built quite a few of them.
Getting Hellers Gneisenau up to a decent standard, meant doing quite a bit of scratchbuilding. Hellers kit will result in a mix of how she looked at different times. I wanted to build her the way she looked during “Operation Berlin”, her most successful sortie into the Atlantic together with the Scharnhorst, in february and march of 1941. This meant further scratchbuilding.
All the ships rowing boats were equipped with floorboards and thwarts from 0,25mm plastic strip.
The propeller shafts were corrected and I also added sacrificial anodes to the hull.
I scratchbuilt the platform for the Flakvierling between the funnel and the hangar and the Vierling itself as well.
Further challenges were to scratchbuild the hangar and the 37mm flak mounts.
I also rebuilt the admirals bridge into a closed one and did quite a bit of work on the platforms of the central turret.
Although the kit dates back to the seventies, with the many of the shortcomings that you can expect from such kits, it must in fairness be said, that the fit of the parts is excellent.
The paintjob included painting the wooden deck with the “Plank on plank method” that is masking individual planks and painting the deck in four different shades of wood colour. When I then drybrushed the deck with dark grey, to bring out the raised seamlines, I made a mess of it all. I sulked for four days before I could bring myself to wash the deck down and to do it all over again.
When finishing the Arado float plane I tried to make masks for the “Balkenkreuze”. I failed and posted a question on the IPMS-Stockholm forum and asked for help.
“Give me the measurements”, answered Björn Bäcklund.
The next time we met, and before I had given him the measurements, he gave me a sheet of decals that he had converted from Tamiyas Bismarck in 1:350 and then printed out for me.
That’s a real modelling friend for you! Thanks again Björn.
I finished her in february 2005 and then traveled to Oslo with her to take part in the IPMS-Norway nationals. She won the ships category, I received my price and we rushed off to take the bus back to Stockholm before the price ceremony was finished.
When I came home to Stockholm I read on the IPMS-Stockholm forum, that Gneisenau had won “Best in Show”. I’m still proud of that.
I wrote an extensive article in two parts on the build, that Martin Waligorski translated into english for the IPMS-Stockholm homepage.
27 additional images. Click to enlarge.