Kombrig 1/700 HMS Royal Sovereign (1891)

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $Probably more than 98 cents
REVIEWER: Frank Spahr
NOTES: Resin ship model


Britainīs Royal Sovereign class of ships of the line, authorized in 1889, set standards for capital ships that remained valid until the commissioning of HMS Dreadnought in 1906. The eight strong class was aimed at standardizing the line of battle after the rather confused and varied construction characterizing the previous decades. Britainīs later designs clearly show the evolution of this successful type of ship. These vessels were the largest and heaviest of their time, well protected and nonetheless fast. They were equipped with a formidable array of quick-firing guns against torpedo boats, the capital shipīs nemesis of the age.  

The design stressed good seakeeping and a high freeboard. To this aim, in seven ships the main artillery of four 13.5 in guns were mounted in open barbettes instead of turrets in the classical sense. These barbettes were armed surrounds constructed integral to the hull. They shielded the guns, their machinery and ammunition feeds, all of which rotated inside the barbettes. Hence the armament remained stationary, contrary to classical turrets. These were used in HMS Hood,  the eighth ship of the class, by personal order of the First Sea Lord, Lord Hood. These rotating armored turrets were much heavier, and to achieve an acceptable centre of gravity, the ship had to be built with one less deck  and without casemate guns. Nonetheless she was a poor seaboat, and she was the Royal Navyīs last turret ship. All later gun turrets are principally barbette types, with an armored „tube“ as an integral part of the shipīs structure, inside which the gun mechanism rotates, under an armored cover which is usually referred to as turret but isnīt one in the original sense of the term.

Upon entering service, the Royal Sovereigns displayed a strong tendency towards rolling, until bilge keels were fitted. Originally serving in the Channel and Mediterranean, they rather soon became obsolete and were relegated to home waters and secondary duties. Upon the outbreak of World War One, only HMS Revenge was active, conducting shore bombardments. She was the first vessel to receive anti-torpedo bulges. In 1919, she also was scrapped like her sisters before.

Technical data


Length 410 ft 6 in / Width 75 ft / Draught 27 ft 6 in mean


14,150 t


2 three cylindre triple expansion steam engines / 8 boilers / 11,000 hp / 2 shafts


4 x 13.5 in / 10 x 6 in / 16 x 6-pdr / 12 x 3 pdr


Top speed 16,5 kn / Range @  10 kn 4.720 nm




Russian manufacturer Kombrig offers a stunning range of resin kits, covering even rather exotic subjects. More than a dozen kits of British Pre-Dreadnoughts are available, with Royal Sovereign being one of them. The resin parts are superbly mastered, molded and cast, yet they are crammed into a ridiculously inappropriate small box made of waste paper and filled with styrofoam chips. This calls for breakage, but I was lucky in this respect. Another weak point is the kit instruction, which are very brief and could use some improvements re the layout. There are neither decals nor PE parts provided. Some of the resin parts in my kit were warped, especially masts and gun barrels, but these were slated for replacement anyway.


Being openly anglophile and interested in the Royal navy a lot, I had for a long time planned to build a pre-dreadnought from the RNīs pinnacle of power, the Victorian era. I wanted to use the so-called Victorian Livery of black hulls, white upperworks and buff funnels.

 Sadly the kit represents Royal Sovereign after her 1902 refit with enclosed upper deck guns, and after the period of the Victorian Livery. So I should either have backdated her or painted her grey. Knowing the limits to my skills, I shied away from attacking the crisply molded hull with burr or saw, and probably ruining it in the act. So I decided to live with the inaccuracy.

 A delicate kit like this needs a dust-and-damage-proof environment, so I planned to mount the ship in one of Trumpeterīs display boxes. Having browsed through so many images, I wanted a Mediterranean setting with more than a whiff of Malta. So I made some sketches and cut mockups from cardboard. The display box was converted using strip styrene, plaster, white glue and paint so that I ended up with a seascape of about two thirds of the base, and a raised shore part for the background. The water effect was created in my usual technique using wall paint, acrylics and a gloss coat. The border was sculpted from fine Styrofoam and painted. The background was sprayed in a hue suggestive of a sunny Mediterranean sky. The buildings were also made from Styrofoam which is easily cut, sanded and painted. Some window frames were made from photo etched railings. Acrylic paints were used throughout. The market stall was built starting with a frame made from PE railings, covered with cigarette paper and painted.

The shoreside rails are WEM 1:350 SMS Koenig railings, trimmed in height. Plants were simulated using a mixture of dried marjoram and white glue, painted in appropriate hues. The figures are from my rather large stock of Lion Roarīs 1:700 figures. I know of no horses and carriages in 1:700 scale – some of those would have made the shore scene much livelier. The visual style I tried to achieve was a somewhat stylized one, a bit like seamenīs souvenirs from the period I had seen in a Danish maritime museum.

 The vessel at this stage existed only as an unpainted hull I used to check the setup. I drilled two holes into the bottom of the hull and fixed screws into them. These ran through holes in the base and made for a sturdy connection with the base. During construction, the hull was screwed to a strip of wood.


Upon checking my references, I found nothing major to alter in the kit – here may be many modelers more critical than me in this respect, though. I concentrated on detailing the kit instead.

My friend Burkhardt Masch of BMK Kleinserien helped me a lot by producing crisp brass barrels for the very visible main guns. These go a long way in improving the looks of the vessel. I also used BMKīs conically turned brass for the masts, which are much straighter and sturdier than the rein items. Another crucial item was AIZU ultrafine masking tape, a Japanese product I discovered at a model show. Itīs available in strips as narrow as .4 mm and eases applying the fine trim of the Victorian Livery a lot. I also used various styrene stock and fine brass wire in diameters as fine as .2 mm. To compensate for the missing PE, I used the very handy WEM sets for HMS Tiger and the cruiser Askold.

 Construction started by drilling the scuttles a bit deeper and by adding PE watertight doors where appropriate. The de-greased hull was then primed using white enamel paint. The white trim was then masked using AIZU tape, and for security reasons another layer of white paint was added. The lower hull was then sprayed red and masked, and the upper hull was sprayed Revell Aqua Color #9 anthracite, a very dark grey. Upon removing the masking tape, I was very satisfied with the result, needing only minimal touchups.

Further painting was done by brush and using acrylics. I aimed at a very well-maintained vessel oozing the spirit of spit-and-polish, so weathering was no issue apart from the inevitable signs around the anchors. The well-kept decks were painted Vallejo Dark Sand, for the funnels, vents and masts Vallejo Buff was used. I have no definite info re the colours of the upper decks and flying bridges. After studying images and discussing the issue with modeling friends, I used linoleum and dark grey paints – even if it lacks authenticity, it looks nice.

During this time-consuming phase I addressed further subassemblies. The funnels need minimal cleanup and were completed soon. The upper deck levels and the flying bridges needed removing the cast-on bulwarks. The massively cast rudder station was also removed and replaced by a more open version, using 1:600 PE ladders for bridge windows. The bridge railings were done with PE railing covered with white glue to simulate the canvas dodgers. At this stage, the masts were also built using some of the resin parts for the fighting tops, QF guns and searchlights, combined with machined brass, fine wire and PE footropes. The numerous shipīs boats were cleaned up and painted, most of them with wooden insides and white hulls; the steam launches received blue upper hulls. With captainīs or admiralīs barges, almost any paint scheme was possible (except pink – I wonder if you read so far, Greg ;-) so blue or green would have been fine anyway. All the subassemblies were not mounted on the hull for the time being, due to the principle of working from the center of the model to the periphery in order to improve access and minimize damage.

 The first subassemblies to be mounted to the hull were the funnels, followed by the rather complex boat mounts and walkways Kombrig omitted. These were made from styrene stock and PE railings. Constant dryfitting was essential to make sure the boats would not interfere with the superstructure parts, namely the numerous vents. These are provided in various standardized lengths and need trimming to size. I followed my friend Christian Bruerīs advice and painted their insides red to improve the optical appeal – I have no idea if this is authentic, though. The boats were mounted on PE cradles from the abovementioned PE sets. PE oars were used from the same sets.

 Having completed the intricate boat deck details, I added the inclined ladders leading away from it and addressed the next  decks. After adding the small QF guns I could add the for and aft bridges. The canvas dodgers were painted JPS RAF White to add a bit of contrast to the white upperworks.

 To ease the process, the masts were pre-rigged before mounting them. I used black 8/0 UNI fly fishing thread for the standing rigging. White glue works with well with this very sturdy thread, and it may be taughtened using heat.

 Having mounted and adjusted the masts, I proceeded to the fore- and quarter deck. I added more vents and placed the pre-painted main artillery into the barbettes. The anchors are PE items from the WEM HMS Tiger set which also includes the PE anchor chain. I was able to add the railings now followed by the various davits and flagpoles. Awning supports were taken from WEMīs 1:400 scale railing set and placed where needed.

 Now I could add the rest of the rigging. For the signal lines, stretched tan sprue was used, with UNI Caenis ultrafine flyfishing thread providing the rest. This material is about as fine as thin stretched sprue, yet much stronger. Heat may also be used to tighten it.

 Around the hull the following details were added: Lion Roarīs 1:700 IJN 127 mm brass barrels were used for the casemate guns; the boat booms were made from .3 mm brass wire; the stern walk was made from acardboard floor reinforced with CA glue and completed with PE parts from the WEM HMS Tiger set. Several dozen crew figures from Lion Roar completed the vessel.

 As mentioned before, hardly any weathering was used save some limited drybrushing to emphasize details and some limited rust streaking around the anchors. Finally I used my Optivisor to check and touch up the paintjob, before spraying the vessel softly with a matt coat to blend everything in.

 I was now able to mount the model to the base; remaining gaps between the hull and the base were filled with acrylic gel.


A very attractive vessel, especially in this paint scheme; a fine yet demanding kit, surely not suited for the beginner in resin kits. I do like the display box which has withstood a lot of travel already. All in all a sunny day in the Mediterranean Fleet!

Frank Spahr

July 2010

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