One month after the armistice, which ended World War One, the Royal Navy sat secure in the knowledge that it still ruled the waves. The Royal Navy had survived the challenge of the German High Seas Fleet in the naval building race that preceded and contributed to the start of the war. Ironically, now the competitors for the Royal Navy were two allies from one month earlier, the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. With 42 capital ships and the four Hood Class building, there was no anxiety over the USN with 16 built and four building and the IJN with 9 built and 2 building.

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However, Britain had been financially drained by the war and military and naval retrenchment was the order of the day. Three of the four Hoods were cancelled, the HMS Canada was transferred to Chile, and some of the older battleships were sent to the breakers. By 1920 the world’s naval equation had changed. While the Royal Navy had shrunk in the two years that had passed, the USN and IJN were surging with new construction and plans for bigger and more powerful battleships. At the height of the British-German naval race before the war, the most notable slogan used to demand the doubling of battleship construction in one year was "We want eight and we won’t wait!" to get eight battleships laid down in one year rather than the scheduled four. In 1920 Britain looked across the Atlantic and saw the United States lay down five South Dakota Class battleships and four Lexington Class battlecruisers in that one year. Nine capital ships of 43,000 tons plus, when the only capital ship in the RN which exceeded 31,000 tons was the Hood. Japan had entered an 8-8 program to construct eight battleships and eight battlecruisers. Britain had entered a new naval building race while being asleep in the gate. Now in the race, the RN had a number of designs prepared and the winning design, accepted in December 1920, was the G-3 battlecruiser. Four battlecruisers of this design, influenced most of all by the Lexington design, were ordered. The design was for a warship of 850 feet in length and 106 feet in breadth, displacing 46,500 tons. Armed with nine 16.5-Inch guns for primary and sixteen 6-Inch guns for secondary guns, the design was powerful and fast with 180,000 shp at a 33 knot maximum speed. With a 14 to 12-Inch armor belt, the class, while not up to modern battleship standards of armor protection, were far better protected than the Lexington Class that were building, which had a 7-Inch belt or the Japanese Amagi Class battlecruisers, of which Akagi was one, with their 10-Inch belt.

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The design went through some modifications in 1921 that reduced the speed to the 32-31 knot range, guns being reduced to 16-Inch rather than 16.5-Inch and the displacement was raised to 48,400 tons (56,540 tons full load). Four ships to the design were ordered in October and November 1921. In 1921 the United States saw that it was now in an arms race, that in large part (along with Japan) it had created. The solution, which was new for the time, was to suggest an arms limitation treaty with a conference to be held in Washington. As a result the leading naval powers agreed to naval building limitations and with certain exceptions a ten-year holiday from battleship construction. Japan and the US scrapped some new construction on the slip or in the case of the Washington, the fourth Colorado Class battleship, sunk it in gunnery tests.

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For the British it meant acknowledging USN parity with the RN but they only scrapped older ships. However, their G-3 design was doomed under the treaty, which called for a maximum displacement of 35, 000 tons. The lead ship of the class was to be HMS Invincible, which had been the name of the first battlecruiser. The other three were Inflexible, Indefatigable and Indomitable, and were also named after early battlecruisers. The G-3 Invincible had a far shorter live than her doomed predecessor. One month after being ordered, Invincible was suspended and in February 1922, with the signing of the Washington Treaty, the ship was cancelled. However, in a way the G-3 design lived on through smaller, more modest reincarnations, the HMS Rodney and HMS Nelson, which were heavily based upon the G-3 design. At 35,000 tons displacement they were allowed to the Royal Navy under the Treaty, as exceptions to the prohibition to new construction. (The bulk of this history for the Royal Navy G-3 design is from the four part series Washington’s Cherrytrees, The Evolution of the British 1921-1922 Capital Ships by N.J.M. Campbell in Volume One of Warship from Conway Press.)

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Resin Casting
Mike Bartel of Imperial Hobby Productions has produced a 1:700 scale waterline model of the G-3 design. Mike should think about changing the name of his company to Cherry Tree Productions, since he specializes in capital ship designs which were never completed and most prominently those 1920 designs that were cut down by the Washington Treaty, the "Washington Cherry Trees". The IHP Invincible measures 370mm along the deck line, which equates to 259 meters. Since the ship would have been 260 meters (862 feet oa) in length, the margin of error is less than ½ percent. At waterline the model came in at 366mm which is almost dead on as the waterline length was 256 meters (850 feet). This of course is excellent accuracy in dimensions by anyone’s standards. The best reference that I have found on the class is Washington’s Cherrytrees, The Evolution of the British 1921-1922 Capital Ships by N.J.M. Campbell in Volume One of Warship from Conway Press, presented in four parts. In addition to an extensive discussion about the G-3 and other designs, the article includes a small plan and profile of the final G-3 design. In comparing the IHP Invincible with the final plan, I could not detect any variance between the model and the plan. However, make sure that you are looking at the right plan as the final design of 1921 did evolve from the initial design of 1920. The plans in British Battleships by Oscar Parkes of this design are not of the final design.

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The IHP Invincible is a "Craftsman Kit" in that you must supplement the kit with parts from other sources. As mentioned in the instructions for the kit, the Tamiya Rodney or Nelson is the necessary source for the rest of the parts. IHP provides resin parts for all of the Invincible. Since the originals were scaled down, less capable versions of the G-3 design, they shared many features with the G-3, which are the parts found in the Tamiya kits. Additionally IHP provides two white metal 6-Inch secondary turrets with barrels. These turrets are the same design of those of Rodney and IHP provides two turrets because the G-3 had eight secondary turrets, rather than the six that are found in the Rodney. The Tamiya Rodney appears to be the more logical choice for the additional parts than Nelson, as the Nelson kit is of her late war appearance. As a minimum, you will need the main guns, six secondary turrets with guns, boats, foremast, mainmast with platforms, directors, 4.7-Inch mounts, and anchors from the Tamiya kit. However, I am sure that there are many other parts from the Tamiya kit that could be used with the IHP Invincible. To add photo-etch the White Ensign Models fret for the Tamiya Rodney should be right on target.

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So what do you get with the IHP kit? You receive the massive hull, three main gun turrets, two funnels, 01 level of the forward superstructure, tower bridge and small aft triangular deckhouse in resin; two secondary turrets and gun barrels in white metal and the instructions. The resin parts are very well cast. In looking for deficiencies, I found a few minute pits that were too small to be called voids along the starboard waterline and one small hole in the breakwater. There was nothing that could not be filled with tiny dabs of super glue. The smaller resin parts only require minimal cleaning to remove resin wafer film before assembly. Mr. Bartel clearly exercises a high degree of quality control to ensure that the modeler receives excellent quality parts. In dryfitting the resin parts together, all parts fit cleanly with each other.

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The detail integral to the hull and other resin parts is more than acceptable. As I noticed with the earlier IHP kit for the Japanese battleship design No. 13, (Click for a review of the Imperial Hobby Productions model of the IJN Project. 13-16 battleship design, which was part of the IJN 8-8 program, that were also Washington Cherry Trees) the parts come with quite a bit of extra detail. In fact the detail far exceeds what I would expect in a "Craftsman Kit". Since the ships were ordered but never laid down, there are no photographs of them and one has only plans to work from. If the modeler feels that he wishes to add additional detail, photographs of the newly completed Rodney or Nelson would prove to be the most logical source. As it is the hull detail includes deck anchor chain plates, bollards, B turret barbette detail, main gun cleaning rods, winches and a host of small deck fittings. The only detail on the hull of which I have a question are the four raised squares on each side at the stern. They appear to be square ports or widows for what I presume is the admiral’s cabin and seem to be designed as a replacement for the sternwalk of earlier designs. If they are such, would they not be recessed rather than raised? However, this is just surmise on my part, since I have no drawings that show this detail of the design.

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If you look at photographs of the turrets of the Rodney or Nelson, you will notice that there were discernable walkways on the crowns. The IHP turrets provide those walkways cast as part of the turret crowns. The tower superstructure, which is prominent in the design, is also well done. It features well incised bridge windows and recessed panels for the rear levels of the bridge. I do have a couple of quibbles with the tower bridge piece. It looks like that found on the Nelson, as the front face goes straight up, rather than have a set back upper level as in Rodney. In looking at the profile of the final design, as found in Warship, the upper tower seems to flair outwards at fore and rear of the bridge, rather than being straight up as represented with the tower bridge part. Also the upper rear of the tower in the profile seems to be slightly more built-up than on the part. However, I am basing these observations one the one small profile found in the cited reference.

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Instructions
IHP provides a one sheet, back printed set of instructions. One side has the design history, Parts matrix/drawings, design characteristics and data and a plan and profile of the design drawn by Peter Marshall. Also included are builder’s notes, which explain that you must have the Tamiya Rodney or Nelson to finish the kit. The other side of the sheet shows an isometric drawing of the assembly, which is very easy to follow since there only thirteen G-3 specific parts. The only problem might be attaching the parts from the Tamiya kit to the Invincible. With the exception of the main guns, the instructions do not show the attachment of any of the plastic parts. Unless you study the design of the plan and profile provided and dry fit the plastic parts from the Tamiya kit to the IHP kit, this could be a pitfall for the unwary.

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Verdict
The British G-3 battlecruiser design was very big and very capable. If completed the Invincible would have more than capable of besting the contemporary USN Lexington or IJN Amagi battlecruiser designs. The follow on Rodney and Nelson were far less capable designs in which the Royal Navy tried to shoe horn the features of the 48,000 G-3 design into a ship limited by the Washington Treaty to 35,000 tons. Imperial Hobby Productions has provided a unique kit, aimed at modeler who is interested in what may have been. The G-3 was more than fantasy. There was a final design and four of the giants had been ordered. Although not perfect, the IHP model of the design, when combined with the Tamiya Rodney kit and the White Ensign Models Rodney fret will bring this stillborn giant to life. The British Cherry Tree that the Washington Treaty of 1922 cut down, can grow again in model form through the efforts of Imperial Hobby Productions with their G-3 HMS Invincible battlecruiser kit.

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