Orange Hobby 1/700 HMS Ocean
|NOTES:||Resin with p.e. parts|
section courtesy of Lars Scharff of modellmarine.de)
As of 2014, the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean is the Royal Navy´s sole aircraft carrier, with HMS Illustrious decommissioned and the new HMS Queen Elizabeth´s commissioning to be expected not before 2017, or rather later.
The vessel was designed as a helicopter carrier to support amphibious forces. The hull form is said to be based on the Invincible light aircraft carrier class, but built to civilian standards. Troops can be landed via the embarked helicopters, and light vehicles may be landed using the four embarked LCVP landing craft. There is a stern ramp, but no well deck as in a dock landing ship.
Ocean is 203.4 m long, 35 m wide and has a fullyloaded displacement of 21,500 tons. Two diesels provide a top speed of 18 knots. The complement is 465 persons, 830 troops can be embarked.
Ocean´s armament is limited to three Phalanx CIWS, four 30 mm guns and machine guns. Up to 22 helicopters may be embarked, including the full range of types in service (Sea King, Chinook, Merlin, Lynx and Apache). Ocean can also operate as an ASW carrier with Merlin ASW helicopters.
After Invincible´s decommissioning in 2005, Ocean was refurbished to operate Harriers, albeit lacking a ski ramp, the aircraft would have had to take off vertically, limiting their payload. After the Harrier fleet was phased out, this option is lost.
I was very enthusiastic when Orange Hobby produced their first naval kits with very interesting subjects, so I bought a number of them. Amongst them was this contemporary British vessel. The kit is very intricately detailed and provides options for deployed vehicle ramps, LCVP and mexeflote.
Luckily for me, I did not begin the kit for quite some while, so was able to learn from other modelers´ experiences. It seems that these early OH kits were covered with an extremely tenacious residue of mold release agent or some other residue. Several modelers found out the hard way that normal parts preparation procedures would not suffice to make the paint stick to the resin. Any attempt at handling or masking would lift the paint off. A friend of mine even trashed a model after a particularly nasty paint disaster. My modeling pal Sven Schönyan of www.modellmarine.de and www.ssnmodellbau.de devised a method of tackling the issue, which I followed in my build, successfully.
I decided to build Ocean in calm water, prior to being moored and with two tugs in assistance. Orange Hobby´s two modern tugs proved an excellent addition to the model, and I found out that a modestly sized base would suffice for the presentation.
In preparing the resin I followed Sven´s recommendations. All resin parts were brushed with a silicon remover from the hardware supermarket, and set aside overnight. The next day and using gloves, I brushed off the silicon remover with warm water and dried the parts. Prior to priming all resin parts were sprayed with lighter fuel for further degreasing. For priming, ordinary hardware store primer from the rattle can was used. The parts were then sprayed with Vallejo acrylics. Artist´s oils were used for drybrushing and washing.
Both kits are, as I already mentioned, extremely detailed and pretty demanding from my personal point of view. Many parts are virtually invisible without optivisors and very, very delicate. I got my first inkling when I built the two tugs. The kit has been scaled down from the company´s 1:350 offering. That makes sure you get loads of detail, but also demands a zen-like exercise in patience and composure. I did not manage to use all parts provided, some of them were so ridiculously small they defied seeing, let alone handling them. Nonetheless I completed both small models over the course of a weekend.
In building the sea base, I marked the shapes of the hulls on my Trumpeter display box. Ocean was to receive two screws which could be threaded through holes drilled in the base and fixed with nuts. Gluing the screws to the resin proved tricky, as neither CA glue nor dental resin would stick easily. But with some grinding and providing undercuts some kind of grip was achieved in the end. The tugs did not receive any screws due to their small size, only the shape of the hulls was marked.
The base was then prepared as usual with me: White wall paint was stippled onto it with a large brush, in order to provide a somewhat realistic surface structure. That dried, green and blue acrylics were sprayed to get the desired shades. After everything was thoroughly dry, the base was sealed with clear high gloss solvent-based lacquer from a rattle can.
Ocean´s hull is the most complex single part. Firstly, the many large pouring stubs had to be sawed off. After clearing the part up, it was primed as described above and sprayed black for the boot topping, light grey for the hul sides and dark grey for the decks. Vallejo acrylics were used, and a lot of brush-painting was involved. I was very happy with the dry transfers for the flight deck. They mostly fit well and felt easier to work with to me than decals. I applied the entire deck markings in about half an hour.
From now on, building the model was mainly an exercise in patience. I worked my way through the various steps of the instructions, often ignoring the recommended sequence. Where possible, suabassemblies were built separate from the model and only attached once it seemed to make sense. As usual, I worked from the centre to the periphery to minimize self-inflicted damage. The sheer number of subassemblies and details meant weeks of modeling without any visible progress. I felt as if I might be caught in subassembly hell for a few ages sometimes. But at some time I arrived at the point when I realized I was making some headway and a bit later I was able to add parts to the hull. At this point things got interesting again. Especially the numerous floodlight gantries and the many intricate platforms with their spidery railings taxed my patience.
But finally the ship was really done, and I had the pleasant task of bringing life to the deck. The kit air group, albeit highly detailed little kits in themselves, is rather measly in numbers, and there are no deck vehicles at all. So I procured WEM deck vehicles and additional Sea Kings from L´Arsénal. Those were no proper RN types, but an image search on the net showed that virtually anything with rotors in the British forces´ inventory had at some point in time been parked on that deck, so I didn´t bother. It might have been some sort of ferry mission for anything I cared. A number of Lion Roar PE figures brought more life to the deck, and after a final flat coat I was able to mount all three vessels to the base. Any remaining gaps were filled with clear gloss acrylic gel, and finally the cover was put over the very, very delicate models.
This sort of kit from my personal view explores the limits of the medium and the modelers. Several PE parts were so finely etched they were unusable. Generally speaking, the PE design is the typical current Asian design with very little room around the PE parts, making them very hard to remove from the fret. I much prefer the WEM style with more room for my fine scissors to work. You need to know about the mould release agent problem, and I would recommend to treat all the OH kits with extra care in preparing the resin. The instructions might be a bit clearer and the English a bit less arbitrary. The air group is very small, and deck vehicles should be a must in such a kit.
But: If you embark on this project and bring all your patience to bear, you´ll be rewarded with a very highly detailed model. The shapes of modern warships are not everyone´s cup of tea, and I have had fellow modelers pronouncing this vessel as terminally ugly. Nonetheless Ocean is a rather efficient and functional design on limited resources, and to me she doesn´t look too bad at all!
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