The following pictures show my H.M.S. Invincible the Revell kit in 1:700 scale, built as a part of a Falklands task force comprising Invincible and two consorts, H.M.S. Sheffield and H.M.S. Brilliant (White Ensign Models).
It was much easier to build the Invincible kit than that of Warspite as the Revell kit matches the original much more closely. During construction I used WEM’s state of the art photo-etch and resin accessories. The hull was cut at the waterline, the flight deck was fitted using considerable amount of putty, its surface was sanded smooth as the molded-on lines of deck stripes were deemed unrealistic. The elevator outlines were engraved. All recesses along the ship’s sides were opened up with their bottom cut off, and new bottoms provided a deeper appearance. Some details like doors and various fittings were added to the recesses. WEM’s boarding ladders and air intake grilles complemented the sides. The forecastle deck was deprived of its original detailing and a new, scratch-built ground tackle was constructed. The fairleads (photo-etch) were thickened with an identical part and some overly bent wire glued to them. The quarterdeck has wood planking (I saw a photograph) I added several, mostly imaginary details to it. The galleries along the flight deck boast photo-etch bulwarks and several lockers and other equipment. The WEM safety net looks convincing - all it needs is some plastic strips glued on the top to enhance 3D appearance. A number of cable reels from the Gold Medal Models stock were also added. The WEM 3-bar railing found a new application: it was cut parallel to the base rail – thus three pieces of one-bar rail were gained. This was glued on top of the bulwarks on the port side. The other application was to act as grab-rails along the sides of the superstructure greatly enhancing realism, especially at the bridge. The bridge itself has open windows with pieces of equipment and some crewmembers visible. This was achieved by cutting the top each level of the bridge and fitting small strips of metal in between. The funnels are WEM’s resin items with photo-etch cap grilles and one-bar rail fitted. The masts have photo-etch yardarms with additional supports which were constructed from photo-etch ladder cut asymmetrically and glued together in order to gain a V-shaped support connected with multiple struts. The two signaling lamps were fabricated using a technique described previously with a transparent cylinder of stretched sprue as the basic part. They are too small to make a difference, though. Numerous photo-etch ladders were attached to the bridge – mainly to the starboard side. The photo-etch davits provided by WEM have a beautiful shape but are way too thin. This could be helped easily by gluing strips of metal to their inside. I found the resin boats provided by WEM of correct shape, but somewhat lacking detail and plagued by irregular surface. They are, however, doubtless superior to the original ones which just don’t look like the real thing. Several details were added like completely or partly new cabin (fast motor boat, huntress and cheverton launch), grab-rails, propellers, flagstaffs, bollards, etc. The armament is sparse to say the least – at the beginning of the Falklands campaign the ship didn’t even have a pair of Oerlikons, although it is dubious whether these can do any harm to modern jets anyway. The only equipment on board was a Seadart launcher and a pair of Corvus decoy launchers. These were fabricated from WEM resin parts. I found the missiles to be accurate in size and shape, unlike the original ones, but the launcher arms seem definitely over scale especially compared to the fragile missiles that hang under them. So I took the original launcher arms, cut the missiles off and made the former smaller. I find the result more convincing, if not perfect.
I used WEM Colourcoats for the basic colours: M 01 Modern Royal Navy light gray for the vertical surfaces and M 16 RN deck gray for the decks. The light gray, however was made considerably lighter with the addition of approximately one third Humbrol white to enhance contrast between the hull and deck colour and to compensate for the scale effect. The deck colour was not lightened because I found the shade satisfactory when matched to that seen on colour photographs. The ship is shown heading for the South Atlantic, that’s why the mast top sections and capstans are black and fairleads white. The ship was painted in a wartime overall grey at a later date, a few minute footage showing her leaving Portsmouth harbour clearly shows the original paint scheme. The stripes on the flight day are made using Letraset. The original number decals were applied while an attempt was made to paint out the ship’s name in red while still on the backing paper – with moderate success. For an unknown reason Revell has provided the otherwise overscale letters in white. The ship’s boats were painted according the suggestion by WEM’s colour print with the orange band along the top of the hull. As the ship was nearly new and in mint condition at the time depicted, no weathering was applied to the hull. Some contrast enhancement using various shades of grey is supposed to do the trick. The flight deck was gently sprayed over with a mixture of thinned black brown and grey to simulate the inevitable wear caused by operating jets. The original decal flags were applied to a thin aluminum foil, which could then be folded to the desired shape.
Ten deck vehicles are parked on the flight deck: four TugmasterMules, two forklifts, a loader, a large and a small mobile crane and a Land Rover. These come from the WEM stock. All vehicles have been upgraded by opening up and detailing the cabin with seats and steering wheel. Several details were added to the outside varying according to the vehicle type, e.g. crane hooks, rear view mirrors, etc. The craft were painted signal yellow with some highlighting using darker and lighter shades. I even attempted to paint the label "Coles" on the large crane. It's almost legible.
The aircraft are also WEM products. The whole air wing is displayed on deck: nine Sea Kings and eight Sea Harriers, the latter of two squadrons. Sea Kings were painted very dark blue grey and received decal roundels and painted identification numbers some of which must be correct as they are based on original pictures. Harriers have been upgraded with under wing pylons, external fuel tanks, pilot tubes and several minor details. They have middle blue gray upper and white lower airframe. All markings and insignia on the Harriers are hand painted. I tried to indicate the different squadron signals on the tail of the two groups. The canopies are gloss black. All aircraft are tied down to the flight deck and the Sea Kings have their rotors folded back and either tied to the fuselage or secured in a yellow-painted scratch-built frame.
Having seen some pictures and a short footage on the departure of the Falklands Task Force I felt that crew members standing along the edge of the flight deck and "manning the rails" would greatly enhance the realism of my model. So I took about 280 figures by GMM and painted them very dark blue with white collars, flesh colour face and white caps with a black band, then glued them to places where the original crew used to stand. Although even more could have been added they contribute considerably to the busy appearance. Now all I have to do is build the two consorts, H.M.S. Sheffield and H.M.S. Brilliant and add them to a seascape.
George Pék MD