Trumpeter/Pit Road 1/700 HMS Renown 1942

KIT #: 05764
PRICE: 20 Euros
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Frank Spahr
NOTES: Photo etched parts WEM Nr. 747 (18 €) Machined brass barrels 15 inch/42 BMK 01700RN381  (1 €/piece)


Together with her sister Repulse, HMS Renown was a brainchild of Admiral „Jackie“ Fisher and his predilection for large, fast, heavily armed and lightly armoured vessels. Ordered during Fisher´s last stint in the Admiralty during WW 1, Renown was completed rapidly. Battle experience off Jutland led to modifications during construction and a further rebuild almost immediately after her delivery. Both times, her lacking deck armour was augmented. She was used for patrols in the North Sea during WW 1, but did not have to fight.

Between the wars she served in the battlecruiser squadron, but was also used as a Royal yacht for voyages abroad. She was reconstructed twice; the first rebuild in the 1920s was minor, but the second in the 1930s was very thorough and changed her appearance and capabilities dramatically. This reconstruction, in the lines of those performed on Warspite and Queen Elizabeth, provided a totally new superstructure, aircraft installations, an improved main armament and a new secondary armament, new machinery and new fire control systems. A similar reconstruction was scheduled for HMS Hood but could not be implemented.

During WW 2 , Renown was deployed virtually around the world. She searched for the Graf Spee, fought Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off Norway, was involved in the hunt for the Bismarck and the battles for Malta, she covered Russian convoys and the North African landings. In 1943, her AA and radar fit was improved and the aircraft installations removed. She spent 1944 in the Pacific with the British Eastern Fleet. Early in 1945, she was recalled to the UK and decommissioned. In 1948 she was finally scrapped, as the last surviving of Jackie Fisher´s battlecruisers.  


 Trumpeter´s convincing model kit depicts HMS Renown during the first half of WW2; it´s a very neat base for a model of this elegant ship. At the time, Renown sported an intricate disruptive camouflage scheme, which makes the model even more interesting in my eyes.

 The purpose of these disruptive schemes was to blur the contours of the vessel and thus make it harder to be targeted, especially by observers on submarines. With the massive progress in radar technology in WW 2, optical targeting lost its overall importance; even submarines found other means of targeting. Uniform grey schemes proved more useful against the growing threat from aircraft – hence the gradual disappearance of disruptive schemes towards the end of the war.

 I decided to digress from the supplied colour profile and use the one from Alan Raven´s „Warship perspectives“ booklet. I assume (purely from my personal point of view) that Raven´s drawing shows the original camo scheme applied to Renown and that the other available profiles show the scheme at a later point in time and after some partial repaints.

 My amount of aftermarket

 In building model ships, I find I can´t do without aftermarket detail items, even though there are builders that use far more of them than I do. There are certain items which can´t be reproduced convincingly in injected plastic, and which will make a model look crude, especially when viewed in magnification. Railings and radar arrays immediately spring to mind, but there´s a mind-blowing plethora of other items which can be added or replaced. Not all of these do make sense, though, with some being beyond my abilities to assemble, and with others not better than kit parts, and others yet being more delicate than the kit parts, but being two-dimensional not looking the part.

Machined brass can be used to produce details circular in diameter, most notably gun barrels, but also masts and yards, searchlight supports, derricks and other items. Brass barrels tend to be sharper in definition than injected plastic items, and they also have no mold seams to remove. Moreover they are straight and reasonably sturdy. Last but not least brass barrels may be produced in much finer diameters than injected plastic or cast resin items. Their additional cost is justified to me if I see them making a difference, which is my condition on any aftermarket use – it needs to make sense and make an improvement. I don´t do „l´art pour l´art“.

 In this case, I used WEM´s excellent PE set which is designed for their own resin kit of the ship. As such, the PE comes without any instructions, with just a parts list. Luckily I found scans of the kit instructions on the net – these were pretty helpful with several subassemblies. I added BMK´s very neat and affordable brass barrels. The classic book by Raven and Roberts on WW2´s British Battleships was used as my main reference.


 Construction started with the hull, which was glued to the waterline bottom plate and adjusted on the selected Trumpeter display. Holes were drilled through hull bottom and display plate, and nuts secured inside the hull with dental resin. The considerable length of the hull and the display box´ tendency to warp necessitated the use of several screws to attach the hull without serious gaps. In this case, the model was to be displayed on a common display with fellow modelers, so I was unable to just glue screws into the hull. Those would have stood proud of the hull bottom plate and have prevented displaying the model as planned.

Now I was able to prepare the seascape for display. After marking the hull´s perimeter by misting grey paint over it with my airbrush, I sculpted the wave and wake effects using plastic filler and a spatula for artist´s oil paints. A lot of products will work, these days I buy filler from the hardware store – virtually the same as modeling putty and way cheaper.  Areas of disturbed water were reproduced by „hacking“ at the material with a wire brush. Any excess material was trimmed or sanded quite easily after curing. The water surface proper was simulated by applying white wall paint with a large brush in a stippling motion. This process allows the simulation of ay given wave pattern and may be repeated and corrected if necessary. The surface may even be sanded after curing. I chose a green shade for the sea, applying the acrylic paint via airbrush. After that was properly cured, the surface was sealed with several layers of solvent-based clear gloss from a hardware store rattle can – only that will bring the surface to life and provide proper reflections.

 During the numerous curing breaks, the deck was added to the hull. Scuttles and hawsepipes were carefully drilled. Construction of the superstructure started at the same time, doing whatever subassemblies making sense. To enhance the look of the superstructure, the bridge windows were simulated using appropriately spaced PE railing, after cutting out the molded – in windows.


 As soon as possible, I started painting. First, the subassemblies were primed with a grey enamel primer. The wooden decks were then sprayed Revell Afrika beige, followed by a brown washing with artist´s oils thinned with Humbrol thinners. The steel decks were painted Vallejo Dark Sea Grey. To simulate the corticene coating found on several bridge decks, JPS Linoleum paint was used.

 This of course, was only the prelude to some serious painting, as in getting the pretty intricate camo scheme done. As there are no dedicated acrylic RN paints, and I much prefer acrylics over enamels, I had to find substitutes. Working from the samples in the Warship Perspectives series, I searched and found various matches from various manufacturers – Revell, Vallejo, JPS and Xtracrylix. This is obviously a pretty low-tech and idiosyncratic approach, and would probably land in a deep Colour Police dungeon on bread and water. But to me it worked and looked all right. To paint the camo, I started spraying the boot topping in a very dark grey and masking it off. Then the hull sides were sprayed in the lightest camo shade. Upon drying, the colour demarcations were marked with pencil (free hand, eugh!), and the remaining shades hand-painted. This proved quite tricky and daunting when it came to the superstructure, but it proved feasible, albeit with the usual back-and-forthing. Getting an optivisor helped a lot and reduced the defects visible only in images, but not at the workbench.


 Parallel to this, the numerous other subassemblies were built and painted as per camo scheme. After adding the 15 inch brass barrels, I sculpted the blast bags from dental wax, which went quite fine. In building the secondary and tertiary armament, I chose to mix and match kit items with PE parts to achieve a viable compromise between delicacy and three-dimensionality. The ship´s cranes were built virtually from PE only, with just some styrene items to hint at machinery.

 To save work and humour my laziness, all the boats were covered with tarpaulins. These were made from cigarette paper which was infused with Revell Aqua clear gloss. That made for a very realistic result with proper creases. The tarpaulins were then painted JPS deck tan; a final brown wash made them look even better. The Carley floats were sprayed grey; a dark wash nicely highlighted their finely molded structure.

 The radar office which is mounted on stilts atop the aft superstructure was modified per reference images with wider passageways. To enhance stability, the masts were substitutued with turned brass items from BMK. Combining these with the intricate PE starfishes and platforms from WEM led to a nice result. At the funnels, WEM PE gratings were carefully bent and applied. The most tricky part of the build was to complete the very iffy radar arrays – the masttop type 281 sets almost drove me nuts one night.

 As always working from center to periphery, the subassemblies were added to the model. Pre-sprayed railings were added using CA glue and not too long sections to prevent warping. Any gaps around the railings were filled with PVA glue. The railings were carefully brush-painted in camo after adding them to the model.

 The Walrus aircraft was detailed with WEM PE parts and rigged with Caenis monofilament.  It was mounted on the catapult as if it was undergoing a check. PE crew members from Lion Roar brought the decks to life. Finally the ship was rigged. Tan stretched sprue was used for the signal lines, UNI fliyfishing thread in 8/0 and 20 den (Caenis) was used for the standing rigging. Flagpoles were added from fine brass wire and PE parts.

 The model received hardly any weathering, as it was meant to show the ship right after her repaint. Some slight marks were aded below the anchors, using brown oil paint.


 This is a quite attractive and pleasing Trumpeter kit without major goofs noticeable to moi; using today´s excellent aftermarket will really bring it to life.

Frank Spahr

June 2012

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