At the end of the First World War, most of the world’s cruisers were obsolete, and those that were not, were based on designs that were the direct descendants of twenty and thirty year old ships. The typical unarmored cruiser mounted its main guns in single, partly enclosed, mountings which were distributed around the vessel and gave the ship a broadside of from four to six guns. Even the newest ships being built by Britain, the U.S. and Japan in the early 1920's, such as the E Class, OMAHA’s and the KUMA and NATORI Class, carried on this lineage.

However, in 1922 and 1923, the French launched three new ships which, in configuration and armament, can be said to represent the first "modern" light cruisers in the world, if "modern" is defined by the ships that were later designed and built by all the major navies, and which were typical of the light cruisers which served in navies from the 1930's until the disappearance of the type in the 1960's. These three ships, PRIMAUGUET, LAMOTTE PICQUET, and DUGUAY TROUIN were 8,000 ton, twin funneled vessels, mounting their eight 6.1 inch guns in four dual gun, fully enclosed mounts fore and aft on the centerline. The ships also mounted a heavy torpedo armament: twelve tubes in four mounts, plus a dozen reloads. These three vessels were successful ships, and although the first two were lost during the Second World War, the last named survived until 1952.

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The ships entered World War II, little changed from their original configuration, most notably in the fact that the boat deck was extended port and starboard to cover the after torpedo mounts, and an aircraft catapult was installed aft. PRIMAUGUET had some modifications done during 1942 and the reader can see a Neptun conversion to this configuration in the section of this site entitled "1250 Scale Conversions." The ship was lost in this state on November 8, 1942, resisting the U.S. invasion of Morocco, during the naval battle of Casablanca. LAMOTTE PICQUET was in French Indochina at the outbreak of the war and remained there. In January 1941, she led a small French squadron to victory against the Siamese fleet at Koh Chang. But within months thereafter, the Japanese occupied Indochina and the ship was immobilized at Saigon. In January 1945, under the erroneous assumption that she was in Japanese hands, she was attacked and sunk by U.S. aircraft from Task Force 38. DUGUAY TROUIN was at Alexandria, Egypt, at the time of the Armistice, was immobilized there, and eventually rejoined the Allies in May 1943, after the fall of Vichy. Thereafter the ship underwent a series of yard overhauls during which, among other things, all four banks of torpedo tubes, the aircraft catapult, some gun directors, the mainmast, and part of the boat deck were removed, a new platform was built aft for anti-aircraft weapons, and a large number 20 mm and 40 mm weapons were mounted aboard. The large midships crane was modified, and the searchlight platform removed from the foremast. The ship then served in the Mediterranean throughout the remainder of the war. In 1947, she was sent to Indochina where she served until returning to France in October 1951, subsequently being decommissioned in 1952.

Neptun produces a fine model of this class, the PRIMAUGUET (N 1444). The model represents the class circa 1930. Because there are no 1:1200 or 1250 scale models of DUGUAY TROUIN as she appeared in 1944, I decided to convert the Neptun model. The major effort here, and the only deterrent to this however, was the extent and location of the modifications that had to be done to the boat deck. Since this area is largely solid, a substantial amount of cutting and filing was required to accomplish the change. In addition, any such work would necessarily impact the main deck and consequently the hull itself, and the problem with that is that the clean lines of deck and hull may be irreparably compromised in the process.

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The progress of the work is demonstrated in Figures 1-13. Figures 1 and 2 show the model in the process of having parts removed and the boat deck structure has been cut off on the starboard side. The 6.1 inch gun turrets have been removed to preserve them from damage during the handling of the model. The mainmast has been removed and the aft structure filed flat so that a platform can be built on it. Figures 3 and 4 show the removal of the boat deck structure on the port side. In Figure 5, thin sheet plastic is glued to the wall of the 01 structure. This is necessary because in cutting and filing, it is impossible to get this wall perfectly flat. Squadron putty is used to fill in any gaps here. Note also that the forward gun director on the bridge has been removed, as well as two smaller directors located port and starboard between the 3.9 inch guns. In addition, the midships crane has been cut off at the bend. The upper portion of he boom will subsequently be cut shorter, filed and glued back on, to create a shorter crane.

Figures 6, 7, and 8 show the addition of putty to the deck and subsequent filing and sanding to level and smooth out the surface areas. Once completed, the model is ready for the addition of new parts. Figure 9 shows the addition of platforms for anti-aircraft weapons on the bridge and aft structure, as well as a boat and some other parts. Note that the midships crane has been reassembled after removal of a portion of the boom. Figures 10 and 11 show the addition of various small parts, rafts, and 20 mm and 40 mm guns. The 20 mm guns are all salvaged from prior conversions of other models. The 40's being single barreled Army type guns were created from Evergreen Plastic parts. Figure 12 shows the model mounted on a board, preparatory to painting. The two yellow gun tubs are cut from a drinking straw. Note also minor changes to the bridge wings, and two of the turret tops need to be modified slightly.

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Figure 13 shows the model after painting. The model was actually hand painted, not airbrushed, although it was finished with an airbrushing of Dullcote. The ship is rigged and painted in U.S. Ms. 22.

The final result proved less difficult to achieve than anticipated. As is always the case, in order to do the model correctly, it was necessary to have good drawings and photographs. In this case my primary source was LES CROISEURS DE 8000 T by Guiglini and Moreau, published by Marines Editions, France. The book has excellent photos as well as complete drawings showing the appropriate modifications.

Paul Jacobs

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