Caio Bella! Italian cruiser Gorizia in 1:400.
Every educated person knows, that the main problem with the plastic model industry is, that there are so few kits of italian cruisers from WWII.;-)
The only injection moulded ones I know of are Tauro's kits in 1:400 of the four cruisers of the Zara class.
I built the Pola in 2001, I think, and she was the last model that I painted with a brush. However, since the italian cruisers of WWII are the most beautiful ships ever built, it was necessary to build the Gorizia too. All the more since she wore that kool italian splint camouflage.
The quality of those old Tauro kits is a bit below old Heller ship kits, so quite a bit of scratchbuilding was required to get the Gorizia up to a decent standard. I started by replacing the main deck with plastic sheet. For the parts that were planked, I used scribed sheet.
The foredecks of italian ships were painted in red and white diagonal strips for aerial recognition purposes. Masking those strips over a foredeck studded with hatches, pollards, air intakes and a catapult, was above my abilities, so I cut away most of its surface detail and sanded it smooth.
Building the bridge, with its platforms in five levels and a range finder on top, was a major challenge. The range finder was supported by four struts that go through all the five bridge decks. The struts are all inclined which makes it a bit harder to get everything aligned. Since the bridge, like the rest of the ship, was painted in a splint camouflage, I couldn't glue it together into one big subassembly, but had to build it in five small subassemblies that could be painted and masked.
I spent three weeks adjusting those subassemblies, to make them stand square and aligned on top of one another. Later, when I built them all together, after having painted them, I had to adjust them even further, before I was happy with the result.
It's one of the most frustrating modelling experiences I've had.
As usual I scratchbuilt the mainmast, using wooden jigs to get the yardarms at right angles to the mast. Adjusting the platforms to fit between the mainmast and the tripod struts was almost as tricky as building the bridge.
I painted the wooden decks, by masking individual planks and then painting them in four different shades of wood colour, the classic "Plank on Plank" method.
The major painting challenge was to paint red and white stripes on the foredeck. It's astonishing how much grey and brown you have to mix into the white, before it starts to look dirty.
Toning the red paint to look bleached took some trial and error. The main lesson learned, was not to mix any white into the red. Then you get pink and your ship looks like a Barbie doll.
The first attempt to paint the foredeck failed, since I couldn't get the stripes straight over the hangar hatches. I removed them, washed the paint away and did the whole thing over again, this time with a satisfactory result.
After the decks were painted I glued scratch built hatches, pollards, and air intakes in place, and built catapult from 0,25mm strip.
I asked my brother, who is a mechanical engineer, to turn the barrels for the main artillery for me. When he had made them, I asked him what it would cost.
"You don't want to know", he said and gave me the barrels.
The parts for the twin 20mm guns looked terrible, so I built my own from styrene bits and piano wire.
As usual, the ships boats required some work to look presentable.
The Gorizia was my last model in 1:400 and at the time I thought it would be my last major conversion job.
I was wrong about the latter. Since then Hobbyboss has issued the POLA in 1:350. Its the old Tauro kit, that they scaled up from 1:400.
That means that all the problems with the kit have been enlarged by one eighth. Normally I would avoid such a kit like the plague, but this is an italian cruiser and therefore she has to be built.
Actually I'm a little turned on by the challenge. We never learn, do we?...