Pelayo was completed in 1888 at the French Yard of La Seyne, there being no Spanish yards large enough at the time to undertake the work. She was based on the French design of the Marceau but with less draft so as to allow her to negotiate the Suez canal fully loaded. Fitted originally with an auxiliary sailing rig of 4000 sq ft, she was soon reduced to military masts . The main Hontoria guns were mounted in barbettes on the Canet system which permitted loading in any position. Her power plant produced 8000 ihp and gave her a top speed of 16.2 knots on trials. She had a rebuild at La Seyne in 1897 where she was re-boilered and partially re-armed , the 4.7-inch being replaced by 5.5-inch. She therefore missed the Spanish -American war by being yard-bound which resulted in her never seeing action with an enemy vessel. She did however fire her guns in anger, bombarding the Moroccan shore in 1909. She was the flagship of the Spanish Navy and attended many International Naval reviews and Regattas. In 1912 she was badly damaged after running aground and thereafter was only used for training purposes. She was eventually relegated to an accommodation , disarmed in 1923 and broken up in 1925.
The Spanish Pelayo was an unusual choice of subject as a first attempt into the resin ship model market, nevertheless that is exactly what Jadar Models of Poland did. Quality wise for a first attempt it is a credible effort, fairly crisp casting and containing within the kit a small photo-etch fret with ladders, railings, boat seats, davits and gunhouse roofs. Unfortunately they appear to have used a single, somewhat flawed drawing as their primary source of information on which they based the master. It shows Pelayo with a rounded sloping cruiser stern, as well as missing out 4 x 4.7-inch guns and apertures from the broadside battery. The neat little photo-etch boat launching davits were absolutely incorrect as well as the boat fit consisting of far too few and all of them wrong, although those supplied had neat photo-etch boat thwarts.
Scaling off photos showed the funnels to be somewhat short so these were replaced with new squashed alloy tube versions. There was a deckhouse that was too high and too far aft on the quarterdeck, the superstructure bridge levels and window layout as well as scuttles on the foredeck hull sides were either incorrect or totally absent. The torpedo net booms were part of the casting and curved to the profile of the hull..... so much for the negatives. On the plus side it is a very esoteric subject, unlikely to made by anyone else and it did scale out dimensionally OK fore and aft as well as athwartships according to my sources.
So the challenge was on as this certainly would be no quick out-of- the-box build! The first major surgery to be taken in hand was the erroneous stern shape. So as to be able to sand and file and grind without getting the inevitable cracking of fillers on a featheredge I decided to cut away a major section of the stern and glue in a lump of resin. This was part of a discarded 1:350 scale White Ensign Models Hood resin turret. So as to prevent the glue cracking under the stresses of grinding I drilled and pinned the grafted section for belt and braces security. After the correct profile was achieved I turned my attention creating the missing gunports. As most photos of Pelayo show her static in harbour with all the square scuttle lids open I decided early on to portray her in a mini-diorama setting so as to use this feature to show of her tumblehome hull shape. I used parts of the ever-useful WEM Askold photo-etch set, for the gun embrasure lids furnishing me with perfect little brass squares in a variety of sizes. In the event I needed over 150 little brass squares. These scuttles when opened in harbour often did not have the lids at an exact uniform level of opening, so I replicated this feature in miniature.
The sternwalk and its roof was fashioned from ordinary printer paper. Once tacked in place using white glue it was soaked in CA glue which made it rigid and gave excellent adhesion all around the edges. The railing of the sternwalk was actually photo-etch ratline footrope. This was cut from an old GMM 1:700 scale Titanic set. It gave the correct appearance of close-space vertical railing.The lower edge was tidied with some selfadhesive RC Cammet vinyl tape. I used this type of tape extensively for all aspects of construction on this model. White is a problem colour when brushed onto very small areas in my experience, so a smooth surface that can easily be achieved with consistency in tone and finish is an attractive proposition, especially when edges can be trimmed back with a sharp blade. Using a combination of various widths of the aforementioned tape I was able to easily achieve the fiddly colour separation lines on much of the superstructure, as well as make crisp scuttle lids and windows.
The main central superstructure had the windows made by laying down a strip of black tape and painting the window divisions in as appropriate. The conning position had a new roof made of paper, which gave the correct step up from the main bridge wings. The lower bridge had the walkway added aft along with the girder supports made of sprue and photo-etch scrap. This was finished off with life-rings fitted according to photos. Flagboxes, small rope reels and telegraphs were applied to the forward lower bridge. By overlaying a thin red vinyl band onto a pre-fitted white band a crisp white bootop demarcation line was easily achieved. I added the deck-edge strakes made from thin fusewire as can be seen in the photos. I had realized that the profile drawing in the Spanish Pelayo monograph was not entirely telling the truth, and that I would need far more information. I scoured the internet and ended with placing help-needed requests on the message boards. These quickly yielded an avalanche of photos and even better still , scans of builders drawings! I was able to contact the well known Pelayo authority, Nick Mitiuckov, who had just had published a new monograph of Pelayo. The book was rushed to me from Russia by Sergey.
I was now better armed to be able make sense of the grey areas as I now had cross-sections as well as some deck photos which went some way to clearing up some of the queries that had surfaced through the build. I made two capstans using small tube and N-scale railway buffers. I was able now to see the exact positions of the deck hatches and companionways, as well as the positions of the ornate 'leisure' seat benches on the quarter deck. These items I bent up from very small bits of corrugated photo-etch. I have never seen such items of civilized non-military equipment on any other capital ship. In the meantime I had masted the ship using stainless steel tubing to give rigidity. The fighting tops used were those supplied in the kit. They appeared to be about the right diameter, however I wanted to have the apertures open. This I achieved by cutting out a slice using a rotary saw blade. Thereafter the 'step' was given more definition again using the vinyl tape.
The lower searchlight platforms were made by forming a circle of photo-etch handrail, affixed to the mast and painted. The open bottom of the photo-etch rail was filled in with white glue. When dry it was painted from underneath. This has a twofold advantage. It keep the rail and platform floor demarcation line perfect, as well as keeping the platform thickness to the absolute minimum.
I had been steadfastly avoiding the problem of replicating the complex boat launching mechanism. It consisted of a variety of tapering pierced girder structures with slide guides on top. Fundamentally it was an athwartships sliding travelling hoist for the steamboats. The outer arms, when the vessel was underway, were capable of being folded fore and aft. The uprights I made of GMM IJN Chiyoda parts, which had a hole spacing and taper that gave the right effect . I then added fine brass strip to each side to give depth to the photo-etch and make it appear as the massive structure that photos suggest it to have been. I needed a number of pieces of small pierced girder for the fwd boat crane as well as the aft swing davits. Unable to locate any photo-etch sections remotely suitable, I resorted to making my own. Having selected some ladder stock of the appropriate width with rung spacing about right for my hole spacing, I filled in every other hole with white glue. When this had set I painted it with a thick coat of white paint. The thick paint had the effect of settling in the 'corners' of the holes between the filled in apertures, thereby giving a passable rendition of very small roundhole pierced girder. These were cut to length, bent about and the married up with a piece of 1:350 scale ladder stock to complete the box structure assembly. The outboard solid arms were cut from paper doubled over so that I ended up with symmetrical pairs. This was from paper again and was infused with CA to make it rigid. Stretched sprue and scarps of photo-etch completed the forward boat crane assembly. For the aft swing davits, which needed considerable 'reach' to clear the tumblehome when lowering boats, I again used my home-made pierced girders, but this time I cut them to a tapered section with sharp scissors, bent them across a hole and then used stretched sprue added the upper part onto the davit. The final effect is quite pleasing and gives a good impression of the tapered davits.
The steamboats were adapted from spare WEM resin items, they were given different deckhouse and cockpit layouts as well as a more wineglass shape stern. The remaining boats are a mix of double-ended whalers from WEM, spare Combrig and Modelkrak boats carved about to give the wineglass stern and straight stem. Oars were added made of stretched brown sprue. The small clipper-bow steam yacht , based loosely on an ex-yacht-now- houseboat called 'Romance' locally, is seen here delivering some important dignitaries to the accommodation ladder. She was carved from a large piece of scrap resin overpour, cockpit was hollowed out, brass coamings and seating added as well as a slender tall funnel. The sailing workboat with the lateen-rig was inspired by photos. This interesting vessel was adapted from a hull from the scrapbox. Floorboards were made of 'plank' photo-etch, thwarts added and the stub mast installed. The sail was made of pencil line panelled paper, bent into shape and infused with CA before painting and mounted onto a wire spar. The crew are perched around the windward side as there is very little space amidships because of her cargo of barrels of water or wine. The rowing dinghy being towed astern was made from another spare boat that I shortened by cutting in half and adding a new paper transom.
The Spanish Naval Ensign was made of printer paper coloured with artists coloured pencils. These can be retro-painted with using a brush with water. I applied a yellow stripe, then a piece of masking was stuck on, red pencil added and washed. The above process was repeated holding the paper against a window for correct alignment to the other side. Thereafter I removed the tape and cut out, resulting in a custom flag. It only remained to add the crest, crease up and apply. I made a very small version indeed for the steam yacht also minus the crest. I had no really sharp and clear photos the large crest at the stern, so I made a crest resembling the real one as far as I could discern from scrap photo-etch bits. The four large admiralty pattern anchors used were the photo-etch kit items with which I was very impressed. The ship was mounted on my usual artists watercolour paper base. The large mooring buoy was made of alloy tube and furnished with a small photo-etch ring according to photos. Virtually all railings were GMM superfine Goldplus, coloured with an indelible pen. The small awnings on the bridge were made of thinned white glue dragged across the frame edged prior with sprue . All rigging was stretched sprue applied with patience and a steady hand. The ratlines and shrouds were originally intended to be the new WEM items. Alas the fighting tops were too high, so I resorted to making them from wire shrouds and sprue foot-ropes.
A mention must be made of the Vinyl Tape used throughout the build of this model. It is a small sheet of matt vinyl that has been slit into differing widths ranging from 0.5mm upwards. It is manufactured by BECC model accessories here in the UK and was supplied by Mr. Carpenter of Cammet Ltd http://www.cammett.co.uk/. It is available in a variety of colours.
The Pelayo was a most challenging subject to research, there being much erroneous information around. I would not have been able to complete this model without the gracious and speedy help of the following people: Santi Caro for supplying me with numerous books and kindly translating great swathes of text as well as ALL the picture captions; Darius Mazurowski for putting me in touch with Nick Mitiuckov, author of book 'Pelayo';Sergey Myagkov for express sending the above book to me on trust; Julio Pillet for sending me huge scans of the plans from the Museum in Madrid; Steve Backer for looking up his 1887 naval annual publication featuring the Pelayo to set my mind at rest about the capstans; and many, many others who immediately dug about in their reference piles to assist me with my quest for information. THANK YOU ALL!
Some essential resources and references when attempting to build the Pelayo are: Busques de la Armada Espanola 1849-1900 , Spanish Ministry of Defense :El Acorazado ‘Pelayo', Quiron Ediciones; Pelayo by Nick Mitiuckov and A. Anka via Sergey http://SiriusM.homestead.com/index.html; Spanish American War website http://www.spanamwar.com/index.htm; US Naval Historical center website Pelayo page http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-fornv/spain/spsh-mr/pelayo.htm; Interesting deck views http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/pelayo.htm