History - HMAS Sydney is a Light Cruiser of the Chatham class. Sister ships are: HMS Chatham, HMS Dublin, HMS Southampton, HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Brisbane. The Chatham class were considered to be improved Weymouth class. The Bristol, Weymouth, Chatham, and Birmingham class’s where often thought of as the ‘Town’ class of 21 vessels if you include the Birkenhead class. HMAS Sydney was built and engined in Glasgow by London & Glasgow Engineering and Iron Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. of Govan. She was laid down in February of 1911 and launched by Lady Henderson on August 29, 1912. She was accepted in April 1913 with a displacement of 5,400 tons capable of 26.5 knots. Captain JCT Glossop RN with 20 officers and 372 other ranks commissioned HMAS Sydney on June 23, 1913. She sailed for Australia on July 25, 1913 in company with HMAS Australia.

HMS Sydney served with the Pacific Fleet from 1913-14, taking part in the expedition to New Guinea in September 1914. She was escorting the Anzac convoy when she heard of the Emden's attack at Cocos Island. She immediately diverted and engaged Emden, sinking her on 9th November 1914 while taking only light damage herself. After this she was sent to the North American and West Indies station until 1916, transferring to the 2nd cruiser squadron of the Grand Fleet until the Armistice. While on patrol on 4 May 1917, Sydney and the other vessels accompanying her were attacked by the German zeppelin "L43". The "L43" dropped ten to twelve bombs on the Sydney, none of which hit the ship. Later in 1917, Sydney was fitted with an aircraft launching platform and equipped with a Sopwith Ships Pup fighter. On 1 June 1918, while patrolling in the Heligoland Bight, Sydney and Melbourne launched their aircraft to engage two German reconnaissance aircraft. Sydney’s fighter destroyed one of the enemy aircraft. Sydney was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet on 21 November 1918. She was then sent to Australia in March 1919 and was given a refit at Cockatoo Island dockyard in 1923. She became the flagship to the Royal Australian Navy from September 1924 until 1927. She was broken up at Cockatoo Island in 1929 but her foremast is preserved as a memorial in Sydney.


Dimensions

Reference

1

2

3

4

Brassey

Janes

Conways

Raven

Notes

(pp)

(oa)

(oa)

(oa)

Length Ft

430

457

458

458

Beam Ft

49.5

49.83

49

49

References
1. Brassey, Hythe Viscount The Naval Annual 1913
2. Jane, Fred Jane's Fighting Ships 1919
3. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921
4. Raven, Alan and Roberts, John British Cruisers of World War Two


Measurements

Roberts drawing of HMS Southhampton

HP HMAS Sydney

1:1

1:1

1:700 in

1:700 in

1:700 mm

Percent Error

458

Length

453

0.65

7.77

199.0

99.0

49

Beam

48

0.07

0.82

21.0

97.7

11

W/L to Quarterdeck

11

0.02

0.18

4.7

99.5

19

W/L to Main deck

19

0.03

0.33

8.5

103.8

128

Quarter Deck

128

0.18

2.19

56.0

99.9

11

Coning Tower

10

0.01

0.18

4.5

95.2

24

6" Gun

26

0.04

0.44

11.3

108.7

10

6" Gun Front

9

0.01

0.16

4.0

90.7

26

Funnel Hieght

31

0.04

0.53

13.5

119.0

9

Funnel Width

10

0.01

0.18

4.5

109.9

102.3

Average

From the drawing by Roberts in British Cruisers I was able to calculate a number of measurements for a Chatham class cruiser. These are the column at the far left of the above table. Based on reference data these ships appear to have been built as a class to a single set of drawings. I am therefore making the assumption that the dimensions of HMAS Sydney are similar to the drawing of HMS Southampton; this could be wrong. I then measured the HP model and converted from millimeters to actual size equivalent. The far right column is a comparison of the HP model dimensions to the drawing dimensions assuming the drawing to be correct. I have averaged the various measurements to get to 102% error. Needless to say, the HP Models kit of HMAS Sydney looks ‘right’ to the eye. 

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 Packaging - I ordered from HP Models in Germany and the kit arrived quickly over wrapped in a strong box with plenty of peanuts and tape. The HP light green kit box was undamaged and when opened the parts are all snugly encased in bubble wrap. Inside the bubble wrap is a plastic zip lock bag that actually contains a part or part wafers. The instruction sheets were under the parts. There was no damage and the parts are easy to get at. Removing the wraps you get:

The Parts - So the hull and funnels are separate with the remaining parts on two thin wafers. There is no tripod, flying off platform, search light tower or antiaircraft guns. So the kit cannot be modeled after Jutland out of the box. The kit is in as built form circa 1912 to 1915; which with minor modifications takes you up to the Jutland period. The name of the kit is misleading but is actually an attempt of HMAS Sydney’s service life from 1912 to 1929.There are a number of good web sites with photos referenced at the end that should allow for easy modifications.

The Hull - The hull is correct in shape and very close in its dimensions to the drawings. There are portholes that are very small in the correct pattern and they match photos. To my taste the portholes are too subtle can could be enhanced with a pin vice. The machinery spaces have vents in position and hatches are molded in place. The decks are planked but you have to look to see the lines. King-Hall in ‘A Naval Lieutenant’ describes how the quarterdeck was planed to remove spots; so in 1/700 this planking can only be overdone. There is also non-skid on the top of the machinery spaces. Anchors, chain and cable reels are all molded in place and nicely done. Aztec stairs led from the quarterdeck to the main deck. This is an opportunity for PE. 

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Smaller Parts - The four funnels are well cast with steam pipes as appropriate. On the fore funnel the steam pipe is aft and on the aft funnel the steam pipe is to forward. The funnels are taller than required but by reducing the height of the funnel caps this can be corrected. The funnels have nice shrouds on their bottoms. The wafer with the superstructure on it does have detail. As most of the superstructure is raised on open ironwork this has been simulated by casting the iron on the surface of the resin block. Yup, another PE opportunity. The bridge should be free standing with a small captains W.C. underneath it. This wafer also has the single resin mast leading from the deck to the lookout. This should be remade in brass rod using the resin piece as a master. The second wafer has all of the small parts; guns, life boats and search lights. It is typical of HP models in that there is quite a bit of flash from the molding process. A NEW No. 11 blade takes this off quickly once the part has been released from the wafer. Extra parts are provided should difficulty be encountered. The instructions are basic. The first sheet is a line drawing of the vessel, with both plan and profile views. This sheet also shows where the parts and extra details go and provides the rigging drawing. The second sheet shows where the parts go and shows how to make the masts, davits and director arms. HP Models had provided a resin part in prior kits but these were really only useful as patterns for a brass replacement. I have included a table showing the mm, inch and AWG sizing for the brass rods suggested. The final sheet shows how many of each type of part are required. Here are the mm, inches and AWG wire gauge equivalents for the suggested brass rigging rods.

Brass Rod

mm

in.

Gauge AWG

0.30

0.012

28

0.50

0.020

24

1.00

0.040

18

A New Kit - HP Models in the past have provided sister ships in a class with no change in the parts provided. A number of years ago HP released a ‘Town’ class cruiser HMS Birkenhead. The light hull of HMAS Sydney is above the darker hull of HMS Birkenhead. The ‘Town’ class similarities are clear but it is also clear that HMAS Sydney is a new kit. I have also included the parts break out for the HP Models HMS Birkenhead kit, WWI-WL-GB-011.

Available Accessories - White Ensign Models made PE 724 for their HMS Chester kit. This fret is invaluable for WWI British light cruisers and destroyers. It provides all the PE you may need including life rails and the iron work to correctly mount the bridge structure. This PE comes with its own instruction set so you have a good idea where to use the parts provided. WEM has recently released PE 784 RN Cable reels; think wire and hawsers here. On WWI light cruisers there are many cable reels, use the photos from the web sites to place then as required. Its hard to do 6’ resin gun barrels. NNT has set B06 that provides twelve turned brass 6" barrels. By removing the barrel ahead of the gun shield, the NNT barrels can help in getting the right look. British light cruisers tend to have a set of ratlines going up the main and foremasts. Atlantic Models make a PE ATEM 06 version for those of us without trained spiders. Many manufacturers are making 1/700 PE crew sets. Here is PE 700-17 from Gold Medal Models for a set of jolly jack tars.

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Final Thoughts - This model does look correct to my minds eye. The basic vessel is there to build out of the box or to enhance as you will. In my mind the only question is, will I build HMAS Sydney or HMS Southampton?

Additional Reading - Available via: www.abebooks.com/
Daw, C.E. & Lind, L.J. H.M.A.S. Sydney 1913-1929. The Story of a Light Cruiser. - Naval Historical Society of Australia, 108 pages, plus 10 pages with 20 b/w photos. History of HMAS Sydney from commissioning in 1913, the destruction of the Emden in 1914 to her final years in the 20’s.

"Etienne" [W.S.R. King-Hall] A Naval Lieutenant 1914-1918 - With HMS Southampton at Jutland and other WW1 experiences. One of the author's purposes in writing this book was to provide a personal record of light cruisers in the North Sea as applied to the Grand Fleet.

Useful Web Sites:
Royal Australian Navy Web Site, HMA Ship Histories, HMAS SYDNEY (I), www.navy.gov.au/spc/history/ships/sydney1.html
World War I Navel Combat, Chatham Second Class Protected Cruisers, www.worldwar1.co.uk/light-cruiser/hms-Chatham.html
Battleships-Cruisers.co.uk , Chatham Class, http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/chatham_class.htm
History of War, Chatham class light cruisers, www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_chatham_class_cruisers.html

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