HMS Queen Elizabeth 1918
Lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of dreadnaught battleships, the HMS Queen Elizabeth was named after Elizabeth I of England, and would see service in and survive both of the World Wars. Launched on 16 October 1913 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, this ship was commissioned in 1915 and was not decommissioned until 1948, when she was scrapped. The ship as built had a displacement of 33,020 tons, a length of 640 feet 10 ½ inches, a beam of 90 feet 6 inches, and a draft of 30 feet 6 inches. Propelled by a total of twenty-four boilers (using oil instead of coal), her four turbines could move the ship at twenty-four knots as a top speed, or for 8600 nautical miles at 12.5 knots, or for 3900 nautical miles at 21 knots. Her main armament consisted of eight fifteen-inch guns, as well as sixteen six-inch guns and two three-inch anti-aircraft guns. My research also mentions four single three-pounder saluting guns and four 21-inch submerged torpedo tubes, but these items are not represented on this kit.
I am going to call this new release by Trumpeter a very welcome item, as I have not seen many World War I-era naval vessels offered in the past by any of the manufacturers. This kit is done to the typical high standards of Trumpeter, with some very intricate detail present for this scale. In addition to six sprues of light grey plastic, there is an upper hull and fore and rear deck pieces (also in grey), a waterline plate and lower hull (both in red plastic), a stand (in black plastic), a small photoetch sheet, and four flag decals. All totaled, there are some two hundred parts available for the modeler, and there are not many left over at the end of construction. If you are unfamiliar with Trumpeter kits, I would describe their plastic as being similar to that used by Dragon, as it has a slight granular texture to it.
I will call the assembly straightforward with this kit, as Trumpeter does a good job of showing exactly where parts are to line up when putting them in place. I personally elected to go out of order a bit to build up assemblies that I would then paint before their installation on the deck. Although some of the fourteen steps may look daunting initially, I can say that if you just pick an end and start there, it all goes together just fine. The only parts that caused me to pause and think were the photo etched covers for the smoke stacks (both labeled as PE 8 on the fret and in the directions). The only challenge with them is that they have twelve points on each that need to be curved for installation (I did this with tweezers). I will mention here that there are single barrels on the sprues representing the fifteen-inch guns with blast bags, but these are not shown in the directions. I really liked the looks of these barrels, so that is what I went with. If you want to use them as well, you need to use parts K13 and K4 to make up the port barrels (left side for any land lubbers reading this) and K14 and K2 to make the starboard barrels (right side). Again, I thought that these looked really nice, especially since I am not used to seeing blast bags molded on, but am very used to having a big and unrealistic opening surrounding the barrels. I would also mention that the barrels for the fifteen-inch guns, whether with or without the blast bags, are molded with a heavy end piece which I presume is meant to represent the metal covers that were installed when the guns were not in use (these covers are also molded onto the six-inch guns).
I painted my HMS Queen Elizabeth using an assortment of paints from various manufacturers. For the decks, I have a multi-step process which involved an initial coat of Vallejo Panzer Aces “Old Wood”, which I then airbrushed Floquil “Teak Stain” over, and then I finished with a Winsor-Newton “Raw Umber” wash. The hull is Model Master Acryl “Light Gray” (FS 36495) with a Winsor-Newton “Payne’s Grey” and “Titanium White” wash. The blast bags on the fifteen- and six-inch guns were painted with Vallejo Panzer Aces “Stencil”, which is just a slightly off-white color. The covers for the fifteen-inch guns and six-inch guns were painted with Vallejo Panzer Aces “Steel”. The lower hull is Tamiya “Hull Red” with the screws (propellers) being painted with Model Master Metalizer “Brass”. The display base was painted with Alclad “Gloss Black Base”, and the nameplate was first covered with the same product, and then with Alclad “Brass” painted over it.
When the Queen Elizabeth was first launched, she carried a Slate Grey paint scheme and, during World War I, this was changed to a “Medium Grey” color. The color directions mention mixing a grey and a white paint to achieve this (several different paint manufacturers are mentioned as an advantage to modelers), but no ratio is provided. I went to my color cross references and found that the grey called for was actually Aircraft Grey. I then derived my upper hull color by looking at what Aircraft Gray would look like if white was added (by looking at color paint chips), and came to Light Gray as my conclusion. I did find a YouTube video in color of the ship during WWI, and it was a light grey color that was shown. I also found a photo online of some crew members on deck in dress whites, and although this was black and white, it made it apparent that the ship was painted a light grey, and that the blast bags on the guns were just a little darker than the uniforms.
As far as my hits of this kit are concerned, I thought that the parts were well designed, well molded, show great detail, and overall fit was very good. There was minimal clean-up required on any of the parts, with the seam line on the bottom of the lower hull being the only item that stands out in my memory as taking any time to clean, but that is only due to it running the length of the lower hull. There are a number of very small parts (being 1/700 scale, that would stand to reason), and there are very few leftovers; therefore, I recommend caution on the part of the builder. As I mentioned before, the blast bags look great on the main guns, and they are also present on the six-inch guns.
I had a few items that I would call misses, and my most serious one with this kit was the fit of the lower hull to the upper hull, as there was a bit of a gap on one side that I could not seem to get rid of. It is small enough that it is hard to notice unless you look closely, but it is there, nonetheless. I mentioned at the start of my review that my research mentioned some additional armament that is not included with this kit, but I have not fully verified that source as being completely accurate (it was an internet site after all). My only other issue was the sheet for the colors mentioning a mix of what amounts to Aircraft Gray and White paints, but as aforementioned, no ratio is provided, nor is there a single color that is a close match mentioned. Finally, I did have difficulty in figuring out where photo etched parts PE 9 and 10 were supposed to be installed in step 12, so I decided to leave them off.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this kit to fans of World War I fighting ships, especially the old dreadnaught battleships in this scale. I have built several World War I aircraft over the years, so this ship is a welcome addition to my display. Based on some of the parts, I am guessing that there also will be a later release of the ship in a World War II configuration (I know that this has already been released by Trumpeter in 1/350 scale). Due to some of the smaller parts (again, this is 1/700 scale), I would suggest that a person have some experience with such items before taking on this particular kit.
I would like to thank the folks at Stevens International for providing this kit to the IPMS/USA for review, to Steve Collins, who runs the review corps, for selecting me to do the build, and to you for taking the time to read my comments.