Emplacements of the Vickers Quad Machine Guns

Here’s a view of the forward superstructure where the Vickers quad machine guns were placed. As you can see, the structure near these guns is open and show some signs of rearranging the bridge to get them open. A support pillar is almost certainly present, as is the case with the aft Vickers machine guns. I used my newly acquired drill press to drill in the bridge part and added the pedestal to the gun. It can be added fully painted without having to worry too much about masking. It also gives the gun a small handle while paining them. Two ammo lockers are present per gun, although I have no photographic confirmation.

Photographs of the aft Vickers emplacements show that only a single ammo locker was added to the gun platform, so adding two is definitely wrong. This is confirmed by images of wreck debris where one pedestal was found upside down with only one ammo locker. Note in the right half that a small ladder is present and that only a very low single-bar railing is present. So, where is the second locker?

I think—judging from these two photographs from the offical HMS Hood site—the second locker is simply stored on deck.

The emplacements were made using lathe, as the pedestals are small tubes that hold both the guns and fit nicely onto the deck part (The gun is not glued into position). Of course, while writing this blog post I noticed that the locker on deck level for the port side gun was not fitted snugly against the pedestal as on the starboard mount, but some distance to toward the ship center. Ah well.

Octuple pompoms, part I

HMS Hood has three older octuple 2 pounders, or pompoms for short. I already made a few of these models a few years back based on the drawing L/0/66 of John Lambert Plans. I even included a few etched parts.

This is the first model on the band stand on the boat deck. Looks quite good and has sufficient detail. But, two things were constantly bothering me. One, I’d found a good source of tubing from Cammet Ltd with the right size of tubing for the barrel and the cooling sleeve while this one has solid rod, and two, the newer commercial etch sets have a nicer floor representations and even ammo belts. Even though the commercial etch sets have lots of errors (lots), I feel I can do much better.

So, I spent a few days going over the drawing by John Lambert, the Vickers Photographic Archive, and some assorted pictures, and made new parts in Autocad for etching. This will be quite an interesting folding exercise! A bit of random detail will be added to the model but it’s mainly etched parts. A second larger etch is in the works which I hope to have finished soon.

Secondary Guns, part I

HMS Hood carried 7 Mk XVII High Angle/Low Angle Twin 4″Guns. The first four were added in 1937 and three more in 1940. These guns are open mounts with a gun shield. So, all the detail on the interior remains fully visible. I started working on new shields soon after I received the kit by White Ensign Models. Their shields were not etched but cast and are somewhat on the clunky side.

Ah, a very early attempt at building the shields (Actually, this is a result of the second set of seven shields). These parts are made up from individual sheets. It takes some cutting and slicing and a good deal of pencil work to prepare the parts which is quite difficult to do several times in a row. The problem with these parts is that both the tumble-home of the side panels and the curvature of the front panel exerted a little bit of stress on the parts. It’s not as if you could see the cracks developing before your eyes, but the height of the shields varied too much from gun to gun. Also, the parts aren’t very strong and I spent too much time puttying and repairing them. Still, they look much finer than the part by WEM.

So, I decided to vacuum form the parts. This required a nice template I made from brass. Fortunately I had access to a small milling machine. This is the template after I already finished all the parts, so it shows some wear from cutting.

After the vacuum forming, resulting in several failed attempts, I made a series of parts to act as cutting templates. With these templates I was able to trim the parts to size with some consistency. I took my time building these cutting templates, as you can see from the above picture. I used a very fine tip X-acto knife to first scribe-in the first cut. Then I removed the part from the template and carved away.

A top view of the same sequence.

The slots in the front of the shield required a series of cutting templates; two cutting templates for the opening for the guns and the view ports, one for the horizontal lines (note that there are subtle height differences) and one for the position of the chairs. These templates were a bit tricky to align nicely as you want to keep the thickness spacing between the view ports even and small deviations show. Getting them right cost me a few more shields. Ah well.

Another cutting template, this time to trim the two internal bulkheads to size. Building all these templates takes time, but you don’t have to spend hours cutting the parts to size, deciding which ones to keep and ditching the remainder. The right side has a small indentation and the left side is angled inward 4 degrees. When dealing with two of these operations on either side with some chance of failure, templates to the rescue!

Here you can see the center bulkheads being fitted. I used a small spacer to keep the parts in the right position and angle during gluing. The bulkheads were cut to size and sanded flush with the shield.

Fitting the custom-etched hatches for the view port. Again, using a small spacer helps a lot in aligning the part correctly. Note how well the inner bulkhead tapers exactly toward the top of the gun shield

Most of the detail on the inside of the gun mount is made from custom-etched parts, including a lot of seats. Here the use to steel for the etched parts appeared to be a bad choice. After folding, the material had a tendency to break, unlike the more malleable brass (note to self).

This is just a small test to see if it were possible at all to place the seats in the shield with some accuracy. Apparently, it is, even though the seats are at odd angles. Can you see that the chairs are slightly misaligned? Neither can I, but the inner bulkheads were in the way for the #3 seat (from left to right). I suppose this is a small error in the cutting templates.

Here are the guns themselves are being glued together in yet another template. The guns were custom-order work by Steve Nuttall.

There’s a bit of detail on the breeches as well. Note the cute detail at the end of the red pointy thing.

All guns and their trunnions, in a dry-fit. I got a bit carried away with the etching, so the elevation gear is visible. I doubt it is visible on the final model, but just having it on this very photograph was worth the effort. Well, not really, but I was experimenting with the etching, finding out what is possible and what isn’t. The part worked out really well.

Here the guns are bring glued to the trunnion with a template.

UP Launchers

HMS Hood carried 5 UP launchers when she was sunk (UP stands for Unrotated Projectile.). These weapons could fire 20 3inch rockets containing so-called aerial mines. These mines had a 238 gram explosive charge tethered to a parachute in the hope that an enemy pilot was polite enough to hit them. However, this actually never happened with the 60 units placed on various ships. The model is based on John Lambert’s drawing no. L/0/96, but this drawing contains one error; the sloped-back glacis plate was not in the drawing. The drawing did contain enough information to design a few etched parts so that some wonderful detail can be added.

The edges of the etched part folded around the launch tubes is not 90 degrees, but actually two 45 degree angles. Folding the part to size wasn’t very easy (I did use a cut-to-size fold mould) and the first folding attempt proved to be difficult. Using styrene as a filler and then drilling in the tubes using the front as a template didn’t work out either as I frequently drilled right through the etching so in the end I cast the part without the front etching. I hadn’t cast anything lately, so I order some CR-600 casting resin and 1-to-1 mold rubber from Micro-Mark. These products mix on a 1 to 1 basis, so you can mix by volume and avoid many casting disasters when preparing small batches. All the detail of the etched part is retained perfectly in the casting. I drilled in the launch tubes using a drill-press with a positioning table at the workshop at work. The tubes are 0.5mm with a spacing of 0.6mm, so that’s only 0.1mm between the ‘tubes’. Small errors show up immediately if you’re off by the slightest amount.

I forgot to cast a block to hold on to the part when using the drill press and I also lost quite a few castings due to errors in drilling or handling. I guess I cast and drilled in over thirty parts before ending up with five acceptable parts.

Here is one model protected by splinter shields atop B-turret. A door is present on the armoured operators cabinet, including the sighting window. A hatch is present on the other side of the model, probably an access hatch to the traversing mechanism. An etched part is added to the bottom of the launch tubes (not on the pic). The ammo boxes are based on photographs of HMS Hood.