Saturday, 18 January 2014

A free model ship plan!

My wife and I went shopping in Dartford this afternoon, and whilst we were there I happened to walk into the local branch of WHSmith … and saw the latest issue of MODEL BOATS magazine was on sale.

What particularly caught my attention was the free plan that was included. This is a 1:144th-scale plan of a World War II-era Royal Navy monitor, HMS Vulcan. (There was no real monitor called Vulcan but as the model is not intended to be an exact replica of a real ship, this name is certainly in keeping with the sort on name the Royal Navy would have used.)

The Royal Navy used monitors during the First World War as a means of bombarding enemy coastal defences. They were generally heavily armed for their size – often with second-hand armament from old pre-deadnought battleships and obsolete armoured cruisers – and were built quite quickly. They were not expected to have a long service life, but not all of them were scrapped after the War ended.

Two of the largest monitors, HMS Erebus ...

... and HMS Terror ...

... were retained in service and several others were used as training ships or converted into minelayers. One of the latter – HMS M33 (which was renamed HMS Minerva whilst she was a minelayer) – is still extant, and has recently been restored to her original condition at Portsmouth.

During the Second World War HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were very active. HMS Terror performed sterling service in the Mediterranean until she was sunk as a result of being bombed by German Junkers Ju88 bombers on 22nd February 1941 soon after leaving Benghazi, and HMS Erebus provided naval gunfire support for the invasion of Sicily, the Normandy landings, and the amphibious assault on Walcheren. They were so successful that two new monitors were built, HMS Roberts ...

... and HMS Abercrombie.


  1. Hi Bob,

    Not forgetting the famous Severn and Mersey used against the Konigsberg in WW1. They were ordered and built for Brazil as I recall and were very luxuriously fitted out.

    I have been thinking about Monitors for use along the Danubia river between Fezia and Rusland....;-)

    All the best,


  2. David Crook,

    I think that I have some plans of the Humber-class monitors somewhere. I also have some plans of several of the Austrian Danube monitors, and they (or something like them) would be an ideal addition to your Rusland/Fezian project.

    All the best,


  3. I recall one very peculiar Monitor class vessel, don't recall the name, that had a forward turret mounting I think twin 6-inch guns, but the monitory bit - the biggy - was (from memory) a 14 or 15-inch chappy, single gun, fixed turret, firing over the starboard beam.

    One of Douglas Reeman's novels was about such a vessel.

    That free plan would be quite a gift, methinks, adding something a little extra to ones battlefields.


  4. Archduke Piccolo,

    I think that the ship (or ships) you are thinking about are the Lord Clive and General Wolfe of the Lord Clive-class. They were armed with a twin 12-inch gun turret forward and an 18-inch gun mounted to fire abeam. The 18-inch guns came from HMS Furious, and were capable of firing 36,000 yards.

    I have read Douglas Reeman's HMS Saracen, and I think that it is one of his best books.

    I can imagine that a model monitor would add quite a bit of 'punch' to the attackers in an amphibious assault game. Perhaps I might build one one day!

    All the best,


  5. Hi Bob

    Now, elsewhere on that front page is some inspiration for a submersible, given your recent submarine game articles.

    What, you ask? Why, HMS Nessie, of course.

    Ahem, need more coffee here...


  6. Arthur,

    Funnily enough the Royal Navy did not include an HMS Loch Ness amongst the Loch-class frigates that were built during the 1940s.

    I wonder why?

    All the best,


  7. I've always wondered why the main guns were mounted so high on these ships, what with stability and suchlike.

    Regards, Chris

  8. Chris Kemp,

    The answer to your question is quite a simple one. The machinery needed to handle the shells and charges for the 15-inch guns required an armoured trunk of a given length above the shell and powder charge magazines. As the monitors were shallow draught more of the armoured trunk was exposed than would have been seen if the gun mounting had been on a battleship. The monitors were also broad beamed, and this helped to ensure their stability ... and made them slow and difficult to handle.

    The animation here shows it better than I can explain.

    All the best,