HMS Dreadnought, Part 1

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/350
MSRP
$79.00
Product / Stock #
9039
Company: Zvezda
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

The British battleship HMS Dreadnought is widely thought to have been the first of the modern battleship designs, culminating in the Missouri class built during WWII. When the Dreadnought was launched in December, 1906, after only slightly more than a year in building – a pace unheard of prior to her building – she revolutionized battleship design and made all other existing battleships obsolete. The reasons for this were simple. She carried a massive, for the period, main armament and relied on only a single caliber, 12" 45 cal, for her main battery. Prior designs had mixed larger caliber guns which created problems when they were all firing and the fire control crews were attempting to determine which rounds to spot and adjust for more accurate fire. With only one large caliber, there would be no confusion as to which battery’s fire was to be adjusted. This large caliber gun would allow her to open fire on the enemy at long range and, unless the enemy possessed similar caliber guns with equivalent range, be beyond their range of effective reply. Second, and as important, at 21 knots she was faster than any other battleship afloat, which allowed her to dictate the range and pace of action. It also ensured that, given enough time and visibility, nothing could escape her guns once sighted.

This ship has been available in resin, but not in this scale in plastic before Zvezda released it this year. For ship modelers, this is a significant and probable "must have" kit.

This review will be a multi-part effort and, thanks to White Ensign Models, it will also incorporate their new photo etch kit for the Zvezda model. I have done some preliminary work while waiting for the photoetch to ship – it's popular and difficult for White Ensign Models to keep in stock. Mine is in transit.

The Dreadnought comes in a large, sturdy, top-opening box, and is cast in gray, slightly soft plastic. Not soft enough to create issues, but easily sanded and carved where needed. The sprue gates are small and create no difficulties. I did notice that the castings for the main battery gun trunnions, inside the turrets, were not cast in complete semi-circles which made mounting the gun barrels difficult until I rounded them out sufficiently to accept the barrels. And, speaking of the barrels, I momentarily considered a set of Master brass barrels made for this kit, but I did not want to spend the extra money on them, so I drilled out the muzzle ends of each, then rounded and expanded the hole with a #11 Xacto blade. I think after painting they will be acceptable.

The instructions are composed of a basic set of black and white drawings with the usual admonitions and warnings. I have found at least one incorrect color call-out.

Assembling the hull is pretty straightforward. It's not as precise and secure as the hull assembly on the Tamiya Mogami, for example, which is I think a standard that should be met by all serious manufacturers of 1:350 plastic ship models, but it works. A word of caution however: tape the hull halves, with the support bars in place, then test fit the main deck assembly. On my model, I should have shortened a couple of the support bars so that they did not spread the hull amidships quite so much because there is a small gap between the main deck and the hull bulwarks that I might have to deal with. This won't be a problem if one intends to make or use, in the case of the White Ensign Models PE set, the torpedo net decking that runs down each side of the main deck. This assembly will neatly cover the gap. However, if you want to build a post 1916 Dreadnought, you'll not be using the torpedo nets or their structures, so you will have to ensure there is no gap.

The rudders mount into small cast "blocks" that one must glue into the hull prior to mounting the rudders. These do not fit well and will require sanding and filling.

The hull overall is nicely done, capturing the unique bow shape of these early capital ships, and the locations for the torpedo net booms are all finely cast as well. The main deck and the, what I would call, forecastle – a raised fore deck to accommodate the forward main turret – are well cast with deck planking detail along with seemingly endless coal scuttles. Coaling these ships was a major and labor-intensive undertaking. Sacks were loaded on deck, opened, and the coal dumped down these scuttles into the bunkers below. Hot, dirty and tiring work. Later Dreadnought class and battlecruisers were to be built to use oil, which dispensed with the scuttles and the major clouds of black smoke that was a sure give-away at sea.

I painted the area of the boot topping semi-gloss black, covered it with Future, and, when dry, cut Tamiya tape to mask off the black stripe. The hull will be painted a rusty red. The wooden portions of the decking were painted Tamiya acrylic Buff, sealed with Future, then varying coats of yellow ochre and sienna oils were brushed to resemble wood grain decking of varying hues. Once this is dry I will apply a light coat of Tamiya clear orange to bring out a more wood-like appearance, something I've learned from building WWI model airplanes.

I would like to thank Dragon USA for supplying this kit and IPMS-USA for providing it to me for review. Further work awaits the arrival of the White Ensign Models photo etch set.

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