For those who have been following this occasional series of articles I am in the process of building three of the Matchbox/Revell Flower class corvette kits. The first is being backdated to HMCS Wetaskiwin, a short focsle Canadian corvette. The second is being updated to HMCS Cobourg, a late war Increased Endurance corvette. Both require a fair number of changes from the stock kit, including: new shortened engine room casing, resited galley, new bridge structures, new hull shapes, new weapons as well as numerous minor details as well. This time we shall focus on 4" guns for both.
Mk.IX Gun on CP.I mounting
4" mounts: Kit , Sirmar, Scratchbuilt
The kit provides a very basic 4" gun and a choice of two gunshields, the CP.I or the CP.III. The only real difference is the CP.I has a flat front, while the CP.III has a curve to the upper section of it. The gun itself is in two pieces with a three piece base, and the shields are a further three pieces consisting of a front/top and two sides. Very basic. A simple operation is to open up the view ports in the front of the gunshield, and this is what I did originally.
For those wishing to add more detail to their model, there are three option at this point: The GLS 4" set, the Sirmar weapons set, or to kitbash from the kit parts. For this mount I chose to use a combination of the Sirmar gun and scratchbuild a new gunshield.
Using the drawings in John Lambert's Flower Class Corvettes book, I drew the shapes of the top, sides and front of the gunshield on .020 sheet styrene. After these were cut out using a steel edge and a new #11 Exacto blade I embossed a line of rivets on the side of the shield by pressing a push-pin on the inside of the shield at the height were the reinforcing angle iron was to go. The view ports were then cut out from the top and front and the four pieces were glued together.
The Sirmar gun has pretty soft detail and I spent an evening cleaning it up with a combination of files, Dremel Mini-Mite and Exacto blades. Sirmar also include the two different types of giunshields, but they do so in a different manner. They provide the breech and mount as one piece, and the shield and barrel as a second. The idea is to join the completed breech/mount to the shield. They also provide a metal barrel in case you choose to display it with no blast bag. I carefully removed the gun from the CP.I shield, leaving the blast bag intact on the end of the barrel. I then drilled a hole at the correct height in the front of the gunshield for the barrel (there is a small locator tab on it).
Sirmar also provide metal parts in the form of wheels, sights and various mounting brackets. I used all of these on the breech assembly and set it aside to prepare the shield for joining with the gun. I made angle brackets from .010 x .060 strip and glued that over the rivet line. To make the brackets that support the shield above the gun I glued two strips at right angles to each other. When dry I added a fillet to the interior angle and then carved a curve into the exterior angle. Another strip was glued along the outside – voila, one curved support. These were glued to the roof of the shield.
Time now to put it all together. The barrel/blast bag is CAed to the shield and the breech lined up inside and also CAed in place. The overhead supports are CAed to the mount and Sirmar's metal supports join the mount to the brackets on the side of the gunshield.
Six months or so later I got the long awaited WEM Naval Colourcoat paints and after a month or two of procrastination I had to try them on the gunshield. I sprayed RN White on the entire gun and shield (and many other parts) and set them aside for future use. For anyone building a model of a second world war British ship these paints are highly recommended, and save the guesswork in mixing colours. RN white is actually more of an antique white, or white with a very pale buff or yellow tinge to it, and it is most noticeable when placed beside the parts I had previously painted in plain old white.
One reason I wanted to do an RCN Flower is the artwork carried on the forward gunshield, and HMCS Wetaskiwin has some of the coolest artwork around on hers. It features a Disneyesque Queen of Hearts with her backside in a puddle in an obvious play on the ship's name. Indeed, the Wet Ass Queen was infamous in the corvette fleet. I have been lucky enough to have access to photos of her emblem as well as a copy of the sketch used to create the original and a postcard showing the colours used. All of these went into creating a set of ALPS decals for use on my model.
With that sort of incentive, I just had to see what it looks like on the shield, so I added the decals to it .. and in a further moment of irrationality I weathered it in advance of the rest of the model. As I plan this to be a radio controlled model, I couldn't use the excellent Rust-All line of products as they as water soluable, therefore I used Testor's Model Master Rust carefully drybrushed on. I think I went a little overboard, but I can tone it down when I next paint something with the WEM White.
4" Mk.XIX on CP.XXIII mounting
The Mk.IX CP.I/III gun/mounting combinations were a stopgap and were basically leftover from the First World War. When the final batch of Canadian corvettes were built, they featured all new layouts, and a new, purpose built gun and mount – the Mk.XIX on the CP.XXIII mounting. This had the advantage of using fixed ammunition, as well as platforms for the crew to revolve with the gun.
One of the things that decided me on trying to build a late war corvette was the 4" Mk.XIX gun, it is different enough from the basic Mk.IX that it would provide a bit of a challenge to scratchbuild. Once again John Lambert's drawings were the basis of this work. I rescaled them to 1/72 and drew them on .020 styrene.
After cutting out the single piece top and front, two sides and a bottom. I opened up the two viewing ports and the open slot for the barrrel. The sides were glued to the bottom, followed by carefully affixing the top of the roof to the side pieces. When this had dried I glued the bottom of the front to the base, and then glued small triangles to the open angles between the front and sides.
The viewing ports have squared off flanges to them to allow flat covers. These were made by placing a piece of styrene in the opening and tracing the interior angle. After cutting out the resulting curve the sides were glued to the ports and a small top and bottom piece added. The gun slot was down in a similar fashion.
The final detail for the shield were the three rungs on each side. These were made in the same fashion as those on the engine room skylight. I used guitar string and bent the string on a pair of square tweezers. To align them properly I drew a line down the sides of the shield, and then at right angles to this. A hole was drilled at the crosspoint. For a drill I used a piece of the same guitar string pushed into a dowel. One end of the rung was placed in the hole, the other end was plotted and a second hole drilled. Once in place a dab of CA locks it in place. The only thing I would do different is to add the rungs before building the shield.
For the gun itself I used the kit 4" gun. I removed the tampion from the end and tossed out the three piece base. Returning to Lambert's drawings and some photos I came up with a reasonable mount. The uprights have right angle supports at their lower extremity and also have angle brackets along the rear. The gun needs to have its pivot point moved back, therefore I cut off the molded on points and drilled holes were the new one should go. To attach the gun to the supports I used two of the kit stanchions, with the wide base used as a 'nut/bolt' in the hole. Leftover wheels were added as well as some rod to portray the training and elevating gears.
At the bottom of the supports is a disc sitting on top of the remainder of the 20mm Oerlikon base as a spacer (like a pair of washers). This sits on a larger disc with many pseudo bolts around its perimeter.
The platform at the rear should really be open mesh, but I didn't trust myself to not damage something that fragile. Therefore it was made from sheet styrene and is attached to the inside of the right hand gun support. I couldn't quite figure out this attachment, so it is best guess. To the top of the platform I added some brass mesh and also a rail of .017 brass.
I still have to add the sights as well as affix the mount to the shield, but this time I will paint it first and then join the pieces together.
Next time: Minesweeping gear for Wetaskiwin
NOTE: ALPS Decals for HMCS Snowberry's gunshield are still available by sending a self-addressed envelope and an IRC for postage. Contact me for more information – Wetaskiwin is not available, but other Flowers will be available upon request