by: Scott Espin [ ]
Originally published on:
Battlecruisers -Every warship design is a compromise between armament, speed, protection and cost. The Battlecruiser is considered to have been the brain child of Admiral Jackie Fisher who believed in exchanging armored protection (weight) for firepower and speed.
The Battlecruisers were designed to be fast, heavily armed ships that could quickly hunt down enemy cruisers and commerce raiders. With their big guns and high speed they could engage enemy ships from beyond the reach of their opponents’ smaller guns. Their superior speed enabled them to easily hunt down any opponent and allowed them to break off the engagement at will.
Admiral Tirpitz, architect of the German Imperial Navy, believed that Capital ships should be designed to “survive” and therefore German Battlecruisers were more heavily armored and featured better compartmentalization than their British counterparts. Because Battlecruisers featured the same big guns as the big battleships, many admirals expected them to be a part of the battle line thus exposing their thinly armored decks to the plunging fire of a long range gun dual.
The HMS Renown was commissioned into the Royal Navy in September 1916 and served with distinction until she was decommissioned in 1948 and broken up for scrap.
The Renown and her sister ship, the HMS Repulse, were both completed in just 20 months, mostly as Jackie Fischer’s response to critics who believed the war would be over before the new ships could enter service. Both the Renown and Repulse were heavily influenced by the existing plans for the Revenge class battleships.
In fact, production was slowed on the Revenge class Battleships because their gun mountings were re-allocated to the Renown and Repulse in order to speed their production. This made them the first 15-in. gunned Battlecruisers.
The HMS Renown and HMS Repulse underwent many refits throughout their lives earning them the nicknames “Refit” and “Repair”. These refits transformed the two battlecruisers into very different ships from the original Fisher design. By the end of World War II the Renown had transformed from a Battlecruiser to a fully modernized battleship and served admirably throughout the war.
The hull of the HMS Renown was 794 ft. long with a beam of 90 ft. During her refit from 1923 to 1926 she received a much needed armor upgrade from the 9-in. thick armor belt taken from the Chilean Battleship Almirante Cochrane. A major weakness of British Battlecruiser design was the thin deck and minimal protection from plunging fire. Additional protective armor was added to her deck at this time to increase protection for the magazines and engine rooms.
Anti-torpedo bulges were added to the Renown to increase her underwater protection against torpedoes. These proved to be problematic for the Renown as the front of the bulge would become detached from the hull and scoop water which greatly increased the amount of drag and therefore affected her top speed. On numerous occasions the Renown was not able to steam at full speed to minimize the risk of further damage until the necessary repairs could be made. This problem plagued her through most of her career in WWII.
The Renown featured 4-shaft Parsons Turbines and eight Admiralty boilers giving her a rated 126,300shp. She is reported to have cranked out a whopping 168,000shp when she carried Winston Churchill for a pre-Tehran conference.
The Renown Class battlecruisers mounted the same 15-in. Mark I breech-loading guns as the Revenge class battleships. The guns were mounted in pairs with two turrets up front, and one in the back. These guns fired a 1,920 pound shell up to a maximum range of 26,700 yards. The armor piercing shells were capable of penetrating 15-in of armor at a range of 14,300 yards.
The secondary armament on the Renown changed many times throughout her lifetime. During the 1936 refit, the last of the Secondary 4-in. guns were removed and twenty 4.5-in. Mark I dual-purpose guns in twin mountings were installed; three on each side of the front superstructure, and two on each side of the rear superstructure.
The HMS Renown underwent many upgrades to her AA armament over the years. During the 1931-32 refit, two 8-barreled 2pdr. pom poms were added with a third 8-barreled mount added during the 1936-39 refit. An additional quad pom-pom was added in 1941. From July 1942 to August 1943, seventy-two Oerlikon 20mm AA guns were added, 26 twin mounts and 23 single. If you’re attempting a specific configuration for your build be sure to check your references carefully and make the necessary adjustments.
The HMS Renown carried two MK-1 Walrus seaplanes which could be difficult to launch and retrieve in the Heavy Seas of the Atlantic Ocean. They were removed from the Renown during the spring 1943 refit.
In 1941 the Renown received a significant technology upgrade with the installation of radars. The Type 284 was used for the main 15-in. guns, the Type 285 for the secondary 4.5-in. guns and the Type 282 for the AA guns. The search radars were the Types 271 and 28.
The kit is boxed in the in the typical Trumpeter rectangular box and measures 15.5”L x 5.5”W x 1.75”D. The box top features a beautiful painting of the HMS Renown being escorted by several Spitfires. The box sides have some nice color profiles of both sides of the ship, a top down view and side views of the Walrus aircraft carried on the Renown.
All of the parts are bagged with one or two sprues per bag. The waterline hull and lower hull are bundled together with a soft foam wrap which holds them together securely and this is in a plastic bag for protection against scratches. The box is big enough to make unpacking and repacking the parts a snap.
The instructions are black and white, printed on white paper in a booklet style which measures 10 ½” x 7 ¾”. There are two pages devoted to the sprue layouts of the parts. The instructions are clear, simple and well clearly diagrammed so that none of the assembly steps are overly cluttered. There is a nice color painting and marking guide printed on glossy paper with paints listed for Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol. Some of the colors listed, however, do not have a matching color equivalent for all the brands so you’re going to have to do a little research depending on the brand of paint you use. The camouflage scheme is complex and will take some care and patience to paint. Careful studying of the painting guide will help. There is no rigging guide so if you want to do the rigging you’re going to have to do some research and come up with a game plan.
The quality of the moldings is good with minimal flash. The sprue attachment points have been well thought out which should make parts cleanup relatively simple. There is a small sheet of decals for the Walrus Seaplanes and Renown’s flags.
This kit can either be built either with the full hull or as a waterline model. The lower hull is molded in red plastic and captures the smooth and graceful lines of the Renown’s sleek hull, including the anti-torpedo bulges. The upper hull is beautifully molded with delicate rain gutters above each port hole. I dry fitted the hull parts together and there are no gaps and the fit appears to be quite good. There are 4 propeller shaft assemblies, each consisting of one part for each shaft with mounting points and a one piece, three bladed prop that is attached to the shafts. The single rudder with its complex shape is attached to the rear most position of the keel spine just under the stern of the ship and matches my references.
The deck is nicely molded in three separate pieces. There are finely engraved lines for the wooden deck planks that run the length of the decking. In this scale it is difficult to mold accurate deck planking, and this kit is no exception. The planking is narrow, but over-scale with no board ends molded, but they should look the part when properly painted. The anchor chains are molded onto the steel forecastle deck so they’ll be a little tricky to paint, however this is common for plastic kits. The bases of the main turrets are molded into the deck and superstructure parts, as are the catapult railings for the two Walrus aircraft. There are numerous small items that are molded into the deck that are well detailed and crisp. There is no photo-etch included in the kit, so you’ll have to go the aftermarket route if you want deck railings.
The superstructures are molded with flat pieces for each of the walls which allows for more delicate details to be molded into the parts. The rear superstructure is built up by attaching the wall pieces to the deck and then the superstructure deck is attached to the top of the walls and the rest of the superstructure built up from there. The front and middle superstructures are built up first before being attached to the deck. Some of the AA gun tubs are molded onto the decking and others get attached separately. The instructions are broken down into bite sized assembly steps which makes them uncluttered and easy to interpret in spite of all the parts needed for the busy superstructure assemblies. The detail on the parts is nice and will satisfy most. The funnels look good as do the funnel caps. The stairs are solid and thinly molded and are a big improvement to the “Aztec” steps found on many other kits.
The life rafts are well detailed, although for some reason they appear to be a little off to me. When I compare them to my reference photos the centers should be slightly narrower and the straight sides just a tad longer. This is a minor nit-pick and will probably not be noticed that as they look pretty convincing as they are.
The 15-in. main turrets are crisply molded; the curved shapes and angles of the turrets appear to have been properly captured. The 15-in. barrels are molded in pairs, which get sandwiched between the bottom and the top halves of the turret. There are separate pieces for the range finders. The mold halves were mated up well so the barrel halves are not offset at all and will therefore require minimal cleanup. Unfortunately, there are no blast bags molded into the turret assemblies so you’ll have to do some scratch work here.
The 4.5-in secondary gun turrets are properly molded with the correct beveled angles around the top and the rim around the bottom. The 10 secondary turrets consist of a one piece turret with a notch cut out in the front which the twin guns fit into.
Due to limitations in styrene plastic molding technology it is difficult to make small barreled weapons to scale so they tend to look chunky in plastic. Trumpeter has done a nice job given those limitations. The moldings on the quad barreled pom poms are amongst the best I’ve seen in plastic. The single and twin mount Oerlikon AA guns are small and nicely detailed and will look pretty good as is.
The MK-1 Walrus seaplanes are molded in clear plastic with 6 parts for each aircraft; fuselage/lower wing, upper wing, engine, propeller, tail and wheel block which is part of the seaplane hull.
The cranes for lifting the seaplanes out of the water are molded solid when they should be a skeletal frame structure, again due limitations with molding styrene plastic. There are many photo-etch sets out there for those who would like more realistic looking cranes.
Radars tend to be solid and chunky in styrene. Trumpeter avoided this issue all together and didn’t include the radar gear so you’re on your own here. There is some great aftermarket PE sets available so you can easily correct this problem. It’s too bad Trumpeter didn’t include a PE set for the radars and railings as this would have made this good kit into an excellent kit. Cost is the big factor here.
Trumpeter’s 1/700 HMS Renown is a great kit of a remarkable ship. Trumpeter did a good job capturing the look and feel of this ship in its 1942 appearance. The overall detail is good, the moldings are excellent and the instructions clear and straightforward. Your biggest challenge will be replicating the complicated and elaborate camouflage scheme.
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