Friday, 25 September 2015

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent: Ship models

Although the vast majority of the ship models held at The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent are not on public display, a selection can be seen in the building that houses the 'Steel, Steam, & Submarines' exhibit.

HMS Achilles
HMS Achilles was an armoured frigate. She was completed in 1864 and served with the Channel Fleet until 1868, when she was re-fitted and re-armed. She then served as guard ship of the Fleet Reserve in the Portland District until 1874, when she was again re-fitted and re-armed. She then served as guard ship of the Liverpool District unit 1877, after which she spent a year with the Channel Fleet. From 1878 until 1880 Achilles was part of the Mediterranean Fleet, when she returned to the Channel Fleet.

She was decommissioned in 1885 but re-commissioned in 1901 to serve as a depot ship in Malta. (Whilst in Malta she was renamed Hibernia (1902) and then Egmont (1904).) She remained there until 1914, when she moved to Chatham, where she stayed until she was sold for scrapping in 1923. (Whilst in Chatham she was renamed Egremont (1916) and then Pembroke (1919)).


HMS Cressy
HMS Cressy was a Cressy-class armoured cruiser. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1901. She served on the China Station from 1901 until 1907, when she transferred to the North America and West Indies Station. She remained there for two years, at which point she returned to the UK and was placed in reserve. HMS Cressy was re-commissioned shortly after the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 and assigned to the 7th Cruiser Squadron.

On 22nd September 1914, HMS Cressy and her sisters, HMS Aboukir and HMS Hogue, were torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-9, which was commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Weddigen. 62 officers and 1,397 enlisted men were lost, of whom 560 served aboard HMS Cressy.


HMS Shark
HMS Shark was an Acasta-class destroyer. She as built in 1912 and was sunk during an unsuccessful torpedo attack on the German 2nd Scouting Group during the Battle of Jutland. She sank at approximately 7.pm on 31st May 1916 and only 6 of her crew survived.


HMS Cumberland
HMS Cumberland was a County-class heavy cruiser. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1928, and before World War II broke out she served on the China Station (1928 to 1935) and – from 1938 onwards – on the South American station. (HMS Cumberland was re-fitted between 1935 and 1938.)

After the Battle of the River Plate (which she just missed, having sailed at high speed from the Falkland Islands to join the rest of 2nd Cruiser Squadron off the River Plate), HMS Cumberland escorted convoys along the African coast and took part in the hunt for the German commerce raider Thor. She also took part in the attack on Dakar (in September 1940) where she suffered damage gunfire from a French coastal battery.

By October 1941 HMS Cumberland had joined the Home Fleet as part of 1st Cruiser Squadron. As a result she acted as an escort for numerous the Arctic convoys until January 1944. She was then transferred to the Far East, and became part of the Eastern Fleet's 4th Cruiser Squadron.

HMS Cumberland returned to the United Kingdom in late 1945, and in 1946 she was placed in reserve. From 1949 until 1951 she was refitted at Devonport to act as a gunnery trials ship, and she remained in that role until she was sold for scrapping in 1958.


HMS Ajax
HMS Ajax was a Leander-class light cruiser. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1933, and except for periods when she was being re-fitted and repaired, she served until she was paid off in 1948. HMS Ajax was scrapped in 1949.

She is most famous for having taken part – along with HMS Achilles and HMS Exeter – in the Battle of the River Plate.


HMS Achilles
HMS Achilles was a Leander-class light cruiser. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1933, and from 1937 formed part of the New Zealand Division. She was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1941 and remained a New Zealand ship until 1946, when she was returned to the Royal Navy. In 1948 she was sold to the Indian Navy, and remained in service until she was scrapped in 1978.

She is most famous for having taken part – along with HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter – in the Battle of the River Plate.


HMS Exeter
HMS Exeter was a York-class heavy cruiser. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1931, and served with the Atlantic Fleet between 1931 and 1935. In 1934 she transferred to the America and West Indies Station and remained there until 1939. As a result of the damage she received during the Battle of the River Plate she was modernised at Devonport between February 1940 and March 1941.

When re-commissioned HMS Exeter joined the Home Fleet, and undertook escort duties for Atlantic convoys until after the hunt for the Bismarck, at which point she was transferred to the Far East. HMS Exeter formed part of the ABDACOM (American-British-Dutch-Australian Command) naval force that was intended to defend the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) from a Japanese invasion. On 27th February 1942 HMS Exeter was damaged during the Battle of the Java Sea, and two days later – whilst on her way to Surabaya for repairs – she was sunk by a Japanese force of heavy cruisers and destroyers.

She is most famous for having taken part – along with HMS Ajax and HMS Achilles – in the Battle of the River Plate.


Admiral Graf Spee
Admiral Graf Spee was a Deutschland-class heavy cruiser (originally termed a Panzerschiffe or armoured ship). She was commissioned into the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) in 1936, and after working-up she participated in five non-intervention patrols during the Spanish Civil War.

Just before war broke out in 1939 Admiral Graf Spee was deployed to the South Atlantic, and between September and December 1939 she sank nine Allied ships. She was eventually intercepted by HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax, and HMS Achilles on 13th December 1939 off the mouth of the River Plate, and during the ensuing battle all four ships suffered damage. The Admiral Graf Spee sought refuge in Montevideo in neutral Uruguay, where she remained until 17th December, when her commanding officer – Captain Hans Langsdorff – scuttled her in the River Plate estuary. He subsequently committed suicide on 19th December.


HMS Cavalier
HMS Cavalier was a Ca-class destroyer.


HMS Hermione
HMS Hermione was a Leander-class frigate. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1969. In 1980 HMS Hermione was modernised in Chatham Dockyard ... and she was the last warship to leave the dockyard before it closed. Her twin 4.5-inch guns were removed and replaced by Exocet anti-ship missiles and Sea Wolf anti-aircraft missiles. She was decommissioned in 1992 and sold for scrapping in 1997.


HMS Chatham
HMS Chatham was a Batch 3 Type 22 frigate. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1990. After having a very active career (she took part in NATO operations off the coast of former Yugoslavia from 1993 to 1994, acted as guardship to the royal yacht HMY Britannia during the withdrawal from Hong Kong in 1997, and fired her guns in anger during Operation Telic in 2003), she was decommissioned in February 2011 as part of the programme of defence cuts and sold in July 2013 for scrapping.


HMS Endurance
HMS Endurance was a Royal Navy ice patrol vessel that served from 1967 to 1991. She was originally built in Denmark in 1956 as the Anita Dan and bought in 1967. She was converted into an ice patrol vessel by Harland & Wolff and commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Endurance in 1967.

She was scheduled to be withdrawn from service as a result of the 1981 Defence White Paper, but the outbreak of hostilities with Argentina when the latter invaded the Falkland Islands and South Georgia changed that decision. She took part in retaking of South Georgia (her two Wasp helicopters attacked the Argentine submarine Santa Fe, which was later abandoned by her crew) and subsequent operations in the South Atlantic.

A survey of HMS Endurance's hull in 1991 found it was not sound enough for her to continue to operate in Antarctica, and she was decommissioned.


Nuclear submarines
In 1968 a nuclear submarine refitting complex was built in Chatham Dockyard. The complex had special refuelling cranes and a health physics building. In June 1981 it was announced that, as a result of the 1981 Defence White Paper, the dockyard – including the nuclear submarine refitting complex – would be run down and the dockyard closed by 1984.


12 comments:

  1. I do like your reminders of my visit to Chatham. I seem to remember the 'River Plate' quartet were all made to the same scale by one man, a Ken Jones, and recall wondering if this was the one-time editor of Military Modelling. Wish I could produce something half as good.

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  2. What an extraordinary collection. Thank you Bob.

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  3. - Although the vast majority of the ship models held at The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent are not on public display, a selection can be seen ... sshipmodels.blogspot.com

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  4. Several times a year they also have talks (free but you have to book) based around models in the reserve collection such as
    http://www.thedockyard.co.uk/plan/events/national-maritime-museum-events-no1-smithery/ which give you a chance to see behind the scenes.

    The talk on the Japanese Navy was excellent, by a very enthusiastic researcher from the NMM who spoke and answered questions for two hours without notes.

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  5. Joppy,

    I remember Ken Jones's modelling work; it set a standard to aspire to.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Pete,

    I'm glad that you enjoyed them.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Conrad Kinch,

    You've got to come over and see them!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. Clemens,

    Thanks for the link; it looks like it is going to be very useful.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Nigel Drury,

    Why don't they make this sort of event more widely known? I for one would have made the journey to hear that talk ... and I am sure that others would as well.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. I would just like to thank you for your kind words about my grandfather Ken Jones work. I was always fascinated as a young child watching him create these fantastic models in his workshop. When he took his model fleet to the historic dockyard in Chatham we were so proud of him. Unfortunately my grandfather passed away in September of last year but it fills me with joy to see people talk about his work with such high regard.

    Thankyou
    Luke Singer

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    1. Luke Singer,

      It was my pleasure to write about you grandfather's models.

      The models your grandfather built are of an exceptionally high quality and I envy the ability he had. I am sorry to hear that he has passed away, but you and the rest of your family are more than entitled to be very proud of his work.

      All the best,

      Bob

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