Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Why the Airfix 'Sink the Bismarck' set is so useful

One of the reasons why I bought the Airfix 'Sink the Bismarck' set is that the models inside have so much potential both built 'as is' and as the basis for a whole range of other ships as well.

  • Bismarck: With a few very minor alterations she can easily pass muster as her sister-ship Tirpitz. The gun turrets can be used to 'up-gun' the Revell models of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau (this was planned but never carried out) ... and the turrets from Scharnhorst and Gneisenau can be used to arm a 'what if?' version of Bismarck with twelve 11-inch guns (this was a proposed solution should the 15-inch guns and turrets planned for Bismarck have not been manufactured quickly enough or not functioned correctly).
  • Prinz Eugen: With varying degrees of modification this model can be used to represent her sister-ships Admiral Hipper (which was scuttled at the end of the war), Blücher (which was sunk in Olso Fjord during the Invasion of Norway), Seydlitz (which was not completed as a cruiser but was being converted into an aircraft carrier when work on her hull was stopped; she was scuttled in 1945), and Lützow (which was sold – incomplete and only partially armed – to the USSR who used her as a floating battery at Leningrad until she was sunk during a German air attack).
  • Hood: She was originally intended to be the lead-ship of a class of four (Anson, Howe, and Rodney) but the last three were never built … but could be for a ‘what if?’ scenario. The model could also be modified to represent Hood as she might have appeared after her intended reconstruction had taken place. This would probably require the use of some parts from the Revell model of King George V or Prince of Wales.
  • Ark Royal: The ship was a ‘one-off’ but the model could be used as the basis of a conversion into any one of the Illustrious-class aircraft carriers or even Unicorn (which was originally designed to be a repair and maintenance ship for aircraft but which served as a full-blown aircraft carrier during World War 2).
  • Suffolk: A total of eleven County-class cruisers were built for the Royal Navy, two for the Royal Australian Navy, and two (to a much modified design) for the Spanish Navy. All of these ships can be built – with varying degrees of conversion work – using this model as the basis.
  • Cossack: The sixteen Tribal-class destroyers were amongst the most powerful destroyers in the Royal Navy during the early years of World War 2. In addition to these ships the Royal Australian Navy had three and the Royal Canadian Navy had eight, making a total of twenty seven ships that can be modelled.

10 comments:

  1. The question which remains is: how many of these sets do we need to buy?

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  2. Tim Gow,

    As many as you can afford ...

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Phil Broeders,

    The set I bought cost me £19.95 ... but I understand that it can be bought for less.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. I have 2 sets to give me Bismark, Tirpitz etc. I felt I'd be using less that half the 3rd set and wanted to invest in some Revell ships as well as some Mike Yarrow specials. However, even if all you use of the 3rd set is the Prinz Eugen, Suffolk and the 2 Tribals - you have a good deal.

    The 2nd Hood is getting cut up to make 5 wrecks (2 sides, a bow, a stern and funnels - an idea taken from Tim Gow) and 3 sets of survivors in ships boats. The 2nd Ark Royal is destined to become to HMS Victorious but I'm finding the covnersion hard as the island is quite different as are the AA guns which I have been unable to source or make as yet.

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  5. Paddy,

    The 'Sink the Bismarck' set is one of the most useful releases Airfix have had for some years.

    The Hood can be converted into Repulse or Renown, and the turrets, funnels, and bridgework can be used on a scratch-built hull to build an R-class battleship.

    Ark Royal - as you are finding - can be converted into an Illustrious-class aircraft carrier, but only with quite a lot of effort ... which is why I suggested Unicorn as a possible alternative (see here and here). She looks like a shortened version of Ark Royal.

    Good luck with you modelling.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Bob, Thanks. Agree with your sentiments about the set - I've always loved them! I remember having these as a kid and wargaming the battle of the Atlantic on the kitchen table. I think those models got skipped years ago - but the 2 new packs are looking good! You are right about HMS Unicorn - the trouble is it is HMS Victorious I need and don't fancy the ££££ it would cost to do it bespoke.

    P.S. Just finished a Mike Yarrow Narvik class Z23 using a main mast cut out of a FOW 15mm beadstead aerial.

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  7. Paddy,

    I still have some of these models stored - unmade - from the first time they were released! I once used four Hoods to build the four Kongo-class battle cruisers for Eric Knowles.

    I seem to remember that Eaglewall made a model of Victorious, but that would cost a lot of money! If I ever manage to build an Illustrious-class aircraft carrier I will certainly write a 'How to ...' blog entry about it.

    Good luck with your naval wargaming.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. The best thing about this box is that it provides beardlings like myself with everything needed to wargame the whole show for the price of a pint and a taxi home with money left over for tea and biccies.

    The single most important thing about any wargaming venture is an easily accessible "start here" box.

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  9. Arquinsiel,

    I had not thought of this particular set of models in that way ... but you are absolutely right! It is a very useful 'campaign in a box' that is very reasonably priced.

    All the best,

    Bob

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