The Admiralen class of destroyers were built for the Royal Netherlands Navy in the mid 1920’s to provide some counter to the threat of the Japanese fleet in the Far East .  Designed by Yarrow and based on HMS Ambuscade, the first four ships of the class Van Ghent. Evertsen, Kortenaer and Piet Hein were launched in 1926 and 1927, followed by four more slightly modified ships Van Galen, Witte de With, Banckert and Van Ness launched from 1928 to 1930.  These ships were all intended to be multi-purpose vessels reflecting the need for a small fleet to carry out a range of duties over a wide area, the Dutch East Indies .  As originally designed the ships would carry 4 x 4.7” guns, 2 x 75mm AA guns, 4 x 0.5” machine guns, 6 x 21” torpedo tubes, mine laying and mine sweeping equipment and very sensibly given the wide area of operation and the maze of islands, a float plane. Little modification was made to these ships during their service, although the aircraft were landed in 1933.

Other than Van Galen the Admiralen class all spent their time after commissioning in the Far East and led a fairly peaceful life until the Japanese invasion of Malaya .  Initially employed on escort and defensive duties, they did not see any significant action until February 1942.  Piet Hein and Van Ghent formed part of Admiral Doorman’s force in a failed attack on the Japanese invasion fleet at Balikpapan .  A combined Dutch, British and US force carried out a similar action in the Banka Strait on the night of the 13th / 14th February, when Van Ghent became the first casualty after running aground.  Piet Hein was lost on 18th February during another night action on invasion forces from fire from the Japanese destroyers Asashio, Oshio and Michishio and possibly from the US destroyers Pope and Ford. 

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Kortenaer formed part of Doorman’s fleet at the Battle of the Java Sea , where she was handicapped by one boiler being out of action and a top speed limited to 25 knots.  Initially on the far side of the duel between Japanese and allied cruisers, Kortenaer was hit by a torpedo probably fired by Haguro,   whilst executing a turn, causing her to break in two and quickly sink.  Evertsen was beached after damage from Japanese destroyers in the Sunda Strait , whilst Van Ness had already been lost on 17th February to aircraft.  Witte de With lasted only a day longer than Evertsen, being scuttled after damage during and air raid at Surabaya had made her nonoperational.  With Van Galen having been sunk by the Luftwaffe in Rotterdam , only Banckert survived the war from the eight original ships, this after being captured by the Japanese with some attempts at conversion to a patrol vessel being made but not completed.

The Model
The model is the H-P Model Piet Hein kit, which shows the ships as originally fitted. The kit is basically accurate although a little short on detail and some of the smaller parts benefit from replacement.  This kit had been in the stash for a couple of years, mainly because research was a difficulty and it was obvious that there would need to be some detailing work to be done.  To the rescue came my friend Michel Baartmans, who ordered some plans from the NVM plans service in the Netherlands , I am indebted to his help in getting this model off the ground, or onto the sea whichever is appropriate, thanks Michel!  Little did I realize the plans were in fact in 1:48 scale and about seven feet long, the detail was amazing and meant I had no excuse but to try and pack as much into the model as I reasonably could given the scale. I was pleasantly surprised at how accurate the HP kit was after referring to the plans, and decided that other the only parts of the kit I was not happy with were the main guns, boats and funnels, although a lot of detail would have to be scratch-built.   Inspiration for the project came in a timely fashion from the Dutch Navy site www.netherlandsnavy.com who in the early stages of the build added a number of photographs of Admiralen class destroyers to their site.  I decided to build Kortenaer as a number of the photographs showed her at anchor outside the harbour at Surabaya , in what looks like a very hot day given the number of awnings erected.   

The main initial work was to replace the funnels. The kit parts are solid and to drill out enough of the interior to hollow them out seemed like a pain, so instead I used the originals as a template and used brass sheet to roll this around them, trimming to the correct shape.  I then cut off the angled base of the resin funnels and after much sanding and filing came out with the correct shape.  Fortunately, steam pipes would hide any seam, so the end result was much better than the originals.  The bridge also required some work. I replaced the windows with ladder stock, blanking some of these out as required with PVA. It can’t be seen on the finished model but there is also detail and crew on the bridge. I thought it would be at least partly visible when completed but it turned out to be wasted effort.  Bridge wing supports were added from a Gold Medal Model set. I can’t remember which, the open bridge was detailed with the emergency steering platform, range finder and radio loop being scratch-built. There are in fact lookout positions as well using seats from the 1.1” USN AA from White Ensign Models. Again I don’t think these show up on the photos.  A number of deck and superstructure fittings including vents, winches, cable reels, hatches, doors, piping, ammo lockers, etc where from a combination of GMM and WEM photo-etch or scratched with brass rod, these are all really needed to give the ship the busy and cluttered look of these ships. 

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Main armament in the kit was poor. The 4.7” guns carried only a simple curved shield on those mounts on the main deck. These were not well reproduced in the kit.  I scratch-built the guns instead with a combination of trimmed down Skywave US 5” mounts, pedestals where made from the kit part removed and various bits of photo-etch. Shields are paper. Depth charge rails and throwers were also scratch-built. Two of the kit boats were replaced and detailed with WEM’s ship’s boats set. The motor boat wasn’t bad so I added some detail and a windshield from ladder stock. Masts are built from brass rod, the crane rigging was taken from a cut down GMM US battleships set.  Until replaced by a later Fokker model, Kortenaer carried something called a Van Berkel W-A floatplane.  A little research showed this to be a license built version of the Hansa-Brandenburg W12, an aircraft first used by Germany at the end of World War 1.  Of course this would need to be built, I used a combination of square plastic rod to carve the fuselage and paper for the wings and tail, I was worried that the paper may be too flimsy so used a double thickness which now looks too heavy of the photographs.  Struts and braces are from various bits of photo-etch cut down. Fortunately these aircraft had no rigging between the struts, so I didn’t have to do that.  Insignia and identification numbers are all hand painted. 

Once the ship was generally complete, I set about adding some awnings from wire and cigarette paper, this is painted with thinned down PVA, which gives a nice rippled effect when dry as though it is flapping in the breeze.  Since I had gone to the trouble to add detail to the torpedo mounts only to find they wouldn’t also be visible, I used one of the photos of the Admiralen class ships as inspiration and decided to show some torpedo maintenance in progress.  This meant hollowing out one of the tubes to allow the torpedo to be shown being removed, then making a torpedo.  Building fins out of paper for a 1:700 scale torpedo is not recommended, especially after losing the third set. Final details came from GMM ultra-fine railings painted black with the stanchions picked out and netting cut from the same set.  Canvas dodgers are thinned down PVA painted.  Painting is with Humbrol enamel, I had to mix the approximate shade of grey, as information on the exact colours of the time are a little hazy. To reflect the oil based paints used at the time there is a little yellow added.  Deck is dark grey, with wooden decks and linoleum on the bridge in WEM teak and corticene respectively.  The RNN found that destroyers with steel decks operating in very hot climates made life uncomfortable, so they often used coconut matting walkways, which are the brown strips visible on the decks, these are again cigarette paper.  Rigging is with fly-tying coloured with black marker. The aerial spreaders are more ultra-fine railings rolled around brass rod.

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Finally I weathered the ship only lightly to reflect the non-combat setting, just a little streaking and rust from pastels and some softening down of the darker colours. To portray something of the intended setting, a little more web time came up with a set of plans for a traditional outrigger canoe found in Indonesia called a proa.  I built this from some carved plastic rod, with brass rod mast and outrigger.  A couple of cigarette paper gulls follow it, mainly because I kept telling Rob K that I would make some. The 14 foot dinghy is fitted with WEM’s boat details.The model was completed in something of a hurry at the end to be able to enter the Telford IPMS competition, so the sea base was something of a last minute job. I wasn’t happy with this as I thought it was too dark, especially for a coastal pacific location. I made this again from my usual paper / acrylic gel method and made a more typical blue green setting, which I think is a big improvement. Overall I think these are interesting and good looking ships. The HP kit is a good start but does miss out some of the detail, which makes these ships look so busy.  I don’t think this will be my last Dutch ship. I do like the look of Java, Sumatra and De Ruyter and Isaac Sweers was a brave ship that deserves a model. So Michel, I may be asking for your help again soon.

Mike McCabe