The Battle of the Atlantic during WW2 was the single longest continuous campaign of the conflict starting within the first few hours of 1st September 1939 and ended only on the very last hour of Germany’s capitulation in May 1945. It has been my desire to capture the true essence of this brutal war of attrition fought by very brave men on both sides. Instead of the iconic capital warships, I chose to show the workhorses of the campaign, namely the U-Boats of the infamous German wolfpacks and their implacable foe, the corvette escorts of the Atlantic convoys. As the title suggests, the role of the hunter and the hunted are often interchangeable, even in very short succession between the submarine and the sub-hunter corvette.
In this first part, we will focus on the Flower Class corvette, the most numerous of the convoy protectors. HMS Zinnia was typical of that class in 1941. She was launched in March 1941 in Middlesboro, and was lost off the coast of Portugal by August 1941, the victim of U-564, the submarine described in Part 2 of this feature. The Flower Class corvette was custom designed as an anti-submarine hunter with almost half of the ship dedicated to depth charge launching equipment. She was also equipped for some surface action with a 4 inch main gun and a 40mm Bofors AA-gun. Zinnia is painted in the Royal Navy 3-color pattern called Admiralty Dark Disruptive – 1941.
The Polish model company Mirage Hobby issued this very popular 1/350 scale kit of HMS Zinnia, and have since then issued several other ships of the Flower Class in their various versions. The parts are well-detailed although the instructions can be a little sketchy on the actual location of deck features. Several items are a little thick for that scale and could be improved either with brass parts or some thinning with a razor. I also obtained White Ensign’s dedicated photo-etched fret of parts that could be used to build several other versions of the Flower Class corvettes.
Starting with the bare hull, the main deck structures are attached and the joints filled with putty and sanded to remove the more obvious seams.
Improvements to some small but important details:
1. Removal of “Aztec” staircase from the bridge structure, to be replaced later with a photo-etched staircase
2. Removal of molded details on the funnel cap, also to be replaced by a photo-etched “cage”
3. Replacement of the plastic main gun barrel with a 1/32 x .006 brass tube
More fiddly details pre-built but not mounted on the deck until after the main camouflage has been painted on the hull:
1. Replacement of kit depth charge racks with these exquisite photo-etched ones
2. Lift raft deck replaced with more accurate matting
3. Whaleboat details enhanced with rudder and bench details
No, it’s not the attack of the orange blob although it certainly looked like it. I used “Silly Putty” to mask the irregular camouflage pattern after initially spraying the lightest color, Royal Navy 507C (Model Masters enamel). The next color is an approximation of the Royal Navy G5. In this case, I found Model Masters SAC Bomber Green FS34159 struck just the right balance and shade when compared with the RN color chips. Lastly, I applied Model Masters Royal Navy 507A, an almost bluish dark grey shade. Some sources calling for a blue like Luftwaffe Blue are incorrect.
Removing all putty mask, I re-masked with tamiya masking tape and applied Tamiya NATO Black XF69, my favorite VERY dark grey instead of Flat Black because in scale models, the grey looks right with scaling effect (how did we survive before these colors came out?). At the end of this, the hull is ready for the attachment of the appendages and fiddly bits.
To fill the depth charge racks in the poop deck, I used plastic rod (1.5mm diameter) cut in 2 mm segments and painted black. The effect is pretty magical.
The outfitting work was done over a 2-week period, with all kinds of minute details added starting with hull decals (sealed with satin varnish), a full wash of grey-brown (1:1 NATO Black: Red Brown), lifelines all around deck superstructures, the gun deck platforms, main mast and of course rigging.
Special mention about adding the anchor chains around the winches and then inserting into the hawser pipes running down to the anchors. Although a pain in the neck, the effect is pretty realistic!
Finally, the completed model is mounted on my favorite method of displaying full-hulled vessels on dry-docking blocks like they would appear in real-life. I then apply the final weathering of pastel pigments for rust and salt stains.