Thursday 27 September 2018

On the Workbench: HMS Warspite, Italian Destroyers, Torpedo boats and Floatplanes.

This past week has been rather busy with real life intruding on my hobby! The latest battle in the Operation Nostalgia campaign is now underway and will be reported on in due course. With the end in sight for my WW2 1/600 aircraft painting project I discovered I did not have the particular green I needed for the camo on the JU52's. There has been a delay of a few days until new supplies were delivered but I took the opportunity of painting a few more 1/3000 scale ships in the downtime.

A couple of planes were completed however -

2 Supermarine Walrus Floatplanes were completed. Strictly speaking they were not needed in the campaign, but it does now give me the option to field them as 'snoopers' when launched from cruisers.

Continued -

6 x Italian destroyers. In the lead are 1 x Soldati I and 2 x Soldati II (Navwar) with 3 x Navigatori (Davco). I have been out of the WW2 naval wargaming scene for some time and most of my 1/3000 collection are 20+ years old. It may be my imagination but the latest vessels I have received from Navwar appear to be crisper and with more detail. I see that they are still releasing new sculpts which is a good sign. It is rather quaint these days that you have to print off the order form and post it by snail mail. Delivery times are however, very quick.

4 x S Boats in the lead followed by 8 Italian MAS boats. All by Navwar.

HMS Warspite will not feature in the campaign but I had an urge to paint a battleship and this one had been languishing in storage having been painted 20 years ago. I rebased it and gave it a whole new paint job.

Painting ships in this scale requires a whole new approach. When starting this project, and not having painted a ship in this scale for 20 years, I initially went with the block paint, wash and drybrush technique but was not happy with the results. Having watched various Youtube tutorials and read online advice, I developed my own style which I am reasonably happy with and is within my own very limited artistic abilities.

This is not meant as a fully fledged painting guide but just to give you an idea of the style I use with my ships.

Fore and aft masts were added using thin wire superglued into drilled holes. I prime using a matt grey Humbrol enamel. The ship is then painted with whatever shade of grey will form the base for that particular ship. With Warspite this was Vallejo 990 light grey. I decided not to give it a camo scheme. Black is then painted in all the shaded areas including where the deck meets the superstructure. The aim is to give every piece of detail an outline in black including any recesses. This will help make any detail 'pop' once the highlight is added. Next is the deck and for wood I have used Vallejo 912 Tan Yellow with a very light wash of GW Agrax Earthshade. I found Tan Yellow on its own to be a little too 'neat' and also needed toning down a touch.   

In place of drybrushing, I painted the edges of superstructure, guns and any other equipment with a very light grey, almost white. I added a very small amount of Vallejo 990 to white to get this mix. The only drybrushing I did retain was an extremely light drybrush of my off-white around the deck of the ship where it meets the hull. It blends in the grey of the hull with the wood deck giving a neater appearance. I tend to paint ship's boats white but occasionally, as here, wooden cabins were added to motor launches.

For basing, I am a little old fashioned and use artists card. There are two reasons for this. 1. I found 2mm thick mdf too thick in this scale and detracted from the model. 2. I have no strict basing system for these ships and are based around the actual size of the ship. It is therefore too variable for standard cut mdf bases available from suppliers.

The ship is sprayed with a coat of gloss varnish before gluing to the base. I find this provides for a good deal of protection when manhandling it from that point on. Filler is added to provide a base for the sea. Apart from the bow wave I tend to use only enough to make an uneven surface. Originally I made more dramatic waves but ended up with almost no freeboard left on the models. I stipple the area around the stern for the wake.

I paint dark blue, then drybrush medium blue, light blue and finally white for the wash, wake and wave crests. The whole thing is then given two coats of matt spray varnish (I use Army Painter). Finally I paint the sea a gloss varnish.   

Well that's it for now, back to some more whiz-bang tally-ho and all that!


  1. Good painting tips..the end result is great, so I'm going to nick your method!

    1. Thanks Jim. Great to hear that the tips may be of use.

  2. Your method seems to work extremely well, not that I plan on ever painting any WW2 era ships! :-)

    1. I will be getting back to Napoleonics fairly soon Peter. I am eyeing up the Battle of Oporto for my next Peninsular War action.