As some of you may have been aware, the last September 9th marked the 60th anniversary of the sinking of the battleship Roma. http://www.quirinale.it/Visite/Visita.asp?id=23127 A few days after the anniversary, I found out that Giampiero Galeoti is the same student that spent years in my classroom during our grade school in Rome. We were just teenagers then but now that we are both in our early thirties, I rediscovered a friend that still shares my same passion.
These were the two events that decided my next subject and for a Roman and supposedly ship modeler, a mandatory step. The situation I wanted to depict was the summer of 1943 during the installation of the "Gufo" radar system. I tried to photograph the diorama to simulate a night scene lit by the harbour's projectors using a particular illumination arrangement and my trusty Nikon D100. The model of the Roma from Regia Marina is a real beauty and this article couldn't review it better http://www.steelnavy.com/cwkagero2.htm I always forget to take pictures during build-up so there are no images of in-between steps to show improvements and scratch-built details. Giampiero gave me a copy of the original drawings that I added to the extensive reference material I had already.
The kit seems very accurate as everything coming from Regia Marina that I have had a chance to run into. The instructions provided are fairly clear and for any Italian speaking reader, a complete technical guideline of the original ship, with a detailed explanation of every component or photo-etch part. Without the original drawings though, I believe it is very hard to understand the precise position of the main superstructure tower's complex stairs and railings layout and in particular of the many fittings that are omitted for practical reasons. At the end I still consider a high quality resin kit like this, supposedly able to almost fall together without trouble, still an intense work of adaptation, sanding and guessing. The parts I entirely rebuilt are the platforms around the main mast (masts of course included) with all their support structures.
Apart from this and other numerous small improvements, I removed all the molded on cable reels, funnel grills and boats' chocks to use photo-etch in their place. The compartments in the funnels were rebuilt as well using a thin resin wafer over-pour cut in shapes. Other areas of major rework are the teak covered surface, almost completely re-scribed, and the secondary AA armament. The four 37mm/54 on the bow have been scratch-built around the flat provided photo-etch and the four 120mm/40 amidships are completely rebuilt. Every support rod or beam supplied with the kit has been substituted with heat-stretched sections of Evergreen rods in different thickness. The same process worked for the barrels of the twelve 80mm/50 stabilized AA guns. The boat chocks on the decks that were not represented at all are actually support braces for cable reels (PE) or trimmed parts of different details from other sets. I have used brass from the included fret apart from stairs, ladders and railings. All of this too thick compared to GMM standards. Cable reels, figures, anchors, stairs, ladders and some watertight doors are all from GMM. My greatest regret at the end was not to have ordered a set of GMM Gold Plus Ultra fine railings. I couldn't wait to finish the model and as usual I never plan too much in advance for a project.
Same treatment was applied to the recognition stripes on the foc'sle. In this case white was used as the base color. The hard part is to scribe the lines delicately enough so as not to cut through the Dullcote layer in which case the white of the resin would show up ruining the original intent. For the teak area a similar process has been used to draw the wood planks pattern and the slightly irregular shading, so typical of this kind of surface. All the rest of the weathering process such as rust streaks or stained areas were hand-painted with a very fine brush. Most of the parts have been gently dry-brushed with "Flint Gray" enamel from Model Masters or Model Masters aluminum metalizer.
Photo-etch cranes are from Loose Cannon while white metal vehicles from MMN, chains are from Roco. Railings, stairs and ladders provided in the kit have been used for the dock. The flags are decals from Delphis that have been placed over small pieces of "Bare Metal Foil", probably the thinnest aluminum film available. In the end, when I experiment with material and techniques, I always learn something new.