On The Slipway

Category: General (page 2 of 4)

Winches, Part I

Two types if winches were present, the variable speed winch (VSM) and the electric winch (EW). These winches are scattered mainly around the barbettes and the forward boat deck area for the boat derricks.

The above image shows HMS Hood shortly after her construction with both types of winch clearly visible. There are two VSWs between the forward and aft turret pairs plus two more on the starboard quarterdeck . Two EWs are placed at B-barbette, two on either side on the conning tower, two near the boat derricks, and two against the quarterdeck bulkhead. The winches near the turrets aren’t positioned symmetrically, so not all winches are shown on the above photograph.

If you look very closely, you’ll notice that the rigging of the boat cranes was changes at the end of Hoods career. Two winches were placed on the structure between the funnels as indicated above (reconstructed winch shown). All (most?) references indicate these winches are the same winches as previously placed on deck level but changed position. But then there would be no winch to drive the derrick, only the hook, and the rigging scheme no longer makes sense: these have to be new winches to operate the derricks. Images showing both in a single shot weren’t found.

The evidence is really staring you in the face if you look closely at the above photograph from the official HMS Hood site of these two sailors posing in front of the boat derrick’s EW. The 16″dinghy stowed to the bulkhead and the 25″ fast motor boat indicate this picture was taken after the winches were placed between the funnels and yet a winch remains visible. So, the number of EWs was increased to ten, though only eight models are required.

The left half of the image shows how the rigging of the boat derricks was lead to these new winches. The right half of the image shows that the two EWs on the quarterdeck were later moved inside and only the drums remain visible. No small wonder, considering that Hoods quarterdeck was always flooded when underway. Having the winches inside isn’t new, all the Queen Elizabeth battleships have their winches inside.

After having done a thorough head counter the two types of winches were traced using a CAD program. Some perspective is always present but they should be reasonably accurate. The VSWs still remain a bit of a guess though.

The main difficulty in making the winches are the drums. I spent many hours trying the get the lathe to do what I wanted and made many failed attempts. The drum was made from brass stock. made flush and the center was marked. A 1.0mm hole was drilled in next. The lathe was set to make a tube with a wall thickness of 0.1mm. The lathe was set at its maximum rpm.

The tube was parted from the stock brass using a parting tool bought from MicroMark and ground to a 0.4mm width as visible top left. Note I use the drill to support to tube while parting. Although I broke a few drills while experimenting (parting tool not set at the correct height), there really was no way to get a good tube without supporting it, otherwise the lathe tears the tube from the rod. This exercise was repeated for the styrene insert, drilled in with a 0.4mm drill, cut to size and fitted with stock styrene rod.

The next part proved to be very troublesome: I wanted to have 5 holes in the drum, spaced out at 72 degrees. I initially glued the brass tube to stock styrene by Plastruct, but small deviations in its roundness made this a futile effort. The rod was simply not accurate enough and I spent many hours and breaking many drills getting the part right. When using rod made to size with the lathe, I had no such problems and the five holes could be drilled in. I set the drill press to a high rpm and mounted the drum on the divider (Proxxon). You have to be really careful here, as the drill can occasionally push the styrene our and you can also crush the drum with ease in the chuck. Of course, this happened a few times.

Eight drums are now sitting comfortably in the EWs. The winches are built from mainly lathed parts.

Here you can see the completed EWs, with the etched parts for the control box and the some hand wheels. A nice exercise in getting to know the lathe better.

Searchlights, part II

The Searchlight part I post showed how the searchlight frame was made including the design for the etched parts. The design is repeated here:

The lantern is mostly made up from etched parts with one large to-be-rolled strip and some additional detail parts.

The rolling took some testing (made a few test lanterns first), but worked out well in the end. A stepped end cap was made with the lathe later sanded down to give the lantern its curved back.

The top detail has a small positioning block for the exact positioning (see top image, center, repeated on the rear surface of the detail part), the side parts are aligned on the lantern’s inclination axis. A small jig was made to hold the lantern in place while gluing the front detail into position.

The parts on the side really add a lot of wonderful detail. The parts were first rolled into shape and then added.

And here are the completed parts. Some brass wire (0.1) is added to the lantern top. The searchlight can still rotate for ease of painting. I doubt the inclination axis (i.e., small brass wire) will be visible after painting as a) the searchlights were usually set looking downward and b) I think I’ll add some glazing material to the PE front.


Two paravanes were mounted just aft of the conning tower, stowed to a bulkhead. Two others were stored in the lockers in the forward breakwater. There are many pictures of paravanes at The Vickers Photographic Archive. The size was determined from several Anatomy of the Ship series and estimates from photographs.

I used a drawing from the Grand Prix Shuppan series as a starting point for the design of the etched parts. Most early Japanese warships had Royal Navy style equipment on board and this drawing is an excellent match.

Note that the paravanes are not stored flat to the bulkhead, but at an angle. There’s a lifting eye on the superstructure and a hoist on the paravane that is off center so this was probably the easiest way to store it.

The part itself is made up from a tapered tube (lathe) and a series of etched parts. The cradles are already fixed to the models. The hoists aren’t in the same spot, but these parts are very very small and also not well visible when fixed to the model.

There isn’t really much else to say, except that they are very small and took about five hours to assemble.

Bridge equipment, part I

Nearly all resources of HMS Hood show the layout of the bridge equipment in the open air, though only as location placeholders. One good image is known of Hood’s Air Defence Position (ADP) showing a series of pedestals and smaller sights and range finders. Finding out which one goes where and what piece of equipment it is was the next challenge. In the end, it appears that HMS Hood is fitted with the same equipment fitted to all battleships, most heavy cruisers and fleet carriers. However, getting a good picture of that equipment is something different altogether as these smaller sights are usually placed in crammed positions that are visually obscured.

Here is a unique image of the ADP of HMS Hood. Some equipment is visible and was an unknown to me before starting doing some research. If you want to learn more about how and why the bridge of a British warship was equipped, I suggest reading The British High Angle Control System (HACS) by Tony Tony DiGiulian at the navweps website or the High Angle Firing chapter in the Gunnery Pocket Book at the Historical Naval Ships Association.

The ADP has a control team consisted of the Air Defense Officer (ADO) and his assistant. He has a special ADO sight that can indicate the to-be-engaged aircraft by relaying a target bearing. Such an ADO sight is thus an aircraft bearing indicator but this sight also functions as a star shell sight at night. The other ADO sight is manned by his assistant, so two of these sights are present. There are six so-called Air-Lookouts (ALOs), three on each side of the ship’s bridge. Each ALO continuously observes an arc of the sky around the ship, watching for aircraft to appear. The ALO uses a position with a pair of binoculars. Once an aircraft is spotted and marked by the ADO, the High-Angle Control System (HACS) will determine the target’s speed and bearing so that it can be engaged by the heavy anti-aircraft artillery. Each large capital ship was typically fitted with three or four of such HACS directors. The model of the HACS is described here. Next to the HACS directors, a series of close-range pompom directors are fitted. HMS Hood was fitted with one such director for each pom pom gun, one Mark I and two mark IIs ). The pom pom and HACS directors in the Royal Navy were all fitted with the Yagi radar aerials later, but HMS Hood was sunk before those radars were fitted. One piece of equipment present on other ships that probably would have been fitted to HMS Hood was the Auto-Barrage Unit (ABU) that determined the range of the enemy aircraft, in order for all anti-air guns to fire a single barrage.

Several directors for the searchlights were also present next to these air-defence positions. There is a single searchlight sight per searchlight, but as the two ADO sights can also act as a searchlight bearing indicators, HMS Hood was fitted with four additional searchlight sights.

The captain himself also has a bearing indicator that was placed on HMS Hood, but not on the inside of the bridge probably due to space constrains. On the King George V class, these sights were placed inside. A final sight, according to John Roberts, is a UP sight placed near the upper ADP of HMS Hood. No information was found on this particular sight.

So, the typical equipment found on RN warships is one pair of captain sights, a pair of ADO sights, two pair of searchlight sights (depending on the number of searchlights), three pairs of ALO sights, a pompom director per gun and a number HACS directors. The latter is the only one that is clearly visible on warships.

This image of HMS Prince of Wales’ bridge shows the ADP most clearly. From this picture follows that the sight on HMS Hood’s ADP is the same. The three ALOs are seen clustered together with the pom pom directors fitted a level lower. The searchlight sight (SLS) is just out of view.

A clear top view of the bridge of HMS Duke of York. The three ALOs are well visible. HMS Prince of Wales and HMS King George V have their ALOs clustered together in a single position, but one of the ALOs aboard HMS Duke of York appears to be placed a but further aft. The searchlight sights (SLS) are seen at left below the main fire control director and are wrapped in covers, as are the pom pom directors (PPD). The captains sight is inside the fore bridge and is not visible.

An excellent top view of HMS Queen Elizabeth, clearly showing the six ALO positions and searchlight sights (SLS). The ADO is not visible, but might be located in the fore bridge, as with HMS Warspite (slightly different bridge layout). The ABU is visible bottom right.

A very clear front view of HMS Queen Elizabeth showing the searchlight sights (SLS) and the ABU.

This schematic of the bridge of HMS Victorious shows the same equipment as on the battleships. Even with everything clearly in the open, I haven’t been able to find a good picture of the bridge of a carrier.

Now that I know what to look for, this equipment is visible on most other larger ships and even on monitors such as the layout above indicates, but the information on bridge equipment of most of these images is poor. If you flip through Raven and Roberts Battleships and Cruisers volumes, you’ll notice many (unannotated) positions of the ADP equipment corresponding to the number of directors I now expect on board these vessels.

So, here’s a clear image of HMS Hood showing the location the Captain’s Sight (CS) and UP sight (UPS) as well. This clear image indicates that it is impossible to see any of the items on photographs as described above and the first image in this post of the ADP is the best there is as far as HMS Hood is concerned.

Part II of this post will show the individual units in detail.

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